PSR/AndyCar: On The Ropes
7 October 1997Daytona Beach, FL-The recently concluded HSR (Historic Sports Car Racing) event at Daytona Beach, FL was a perfect nostalgic backdrop for the continual stream of current road racing news pouring out of New York and Tampa. As GTP and other historic racecars from the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's roared by on the high banks, the noise emanating from those two locations was deafening. In New York the SCCA was setting forth a strategy to revive the USRRC (United States Road Racing Championship). Meanwhile, in Tampa Andy Evans was no doubt feeling like the Wall Street real-life characters in the book "Barbarians At The Gate." The fact that Evans has amassed his vast fortune on that fabled avenue is an ironic twist in this whole scenario.
The meeting in New York read like a who's who of racing: William France, Jr.; Skip Barber; Les Richter; John Bishop; Rob Dyson; Dan Greenwood; Ralph Sanchez; Mike Rand; John Saunders; Jim Kanely and so on. The meeting was brought about to find a formula to allow the PSR WSC and GT-1, 2, and 3 cars to compete in the new series. An exact schedule will follow in a few weeks, but you will see the following tracks involved in the series: Homestead, Daytona, Watkins Glen, Lime Rock, Road Atlanta, Minneapolis (street race), Mid-Ohio, Laguna Seca and Road America.
The other bit of irony of this entire episode is that Andy Evans was telling everyone that he would buy the Trans-Am and Can-Am names in a friendly or hostile takeover. Evans seemed to be sending the message "Pick your poison boys because here I come with bundles of cash to convince you that I know what's best for road racing." Mr.Evans forgot one thing. Entry into the lofty environs of motorsport requires more than just money.
Do the words compromise, connections, and tenure mean anything? A living, breathing example of those three words is Roger Penske. Penske's vast array of companies are involved, in one way or another, with every aspect of motorsports. It has taken thirty years to achieve that much power, and it is a lot of power. Penske recently accquired North Carolina Motorspeedway as well as a 40% stake in Homestead. Behind the scenes in each deal was Bill France, Jr. Penske probably could have purchased Homestead on his own, but it was smarter to compromise with a connection today to secure a future NASCAR Winston Cup date, and to keep in place the current CART date. Entry in this lofty and exclusive club also requires a certain amount of accrued time as a major player. That demand was and still is lacking on Evans' resume. On the positive side, Evans' vision of a manufacturer's council for North America and Europe was brilliant. A reunification of sportscar racing with a common formula. If Evans had stuck to that philosophy and quietly went about his business of track accumulation and integration of his businesses, all of this would be unnecessary. However, that was not the case. In a nutshell Evans tried a power play against the big boys and lost.
So what will transpire in the weeks to come? PSR still has two more races left in the season. The boys from Europe have arrived and are ready to race. But something inside tells me that A "For Sale By Owner" sign will probably be hanging somewhere on the Sebring property next Sunday. Stay tuned!
David Treffer -- The Auto Channel