Much ado about racing

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, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

Recently I attempted to write something called "Racing for Dummies." (Since I are one!)

To sum it up, there's a lot going on around the track if you care to know. But if you just want to see wicked cars going zoom, that's all cool too.

Today, I hope to clear up some off-track things. It's a little more complicated. There is IndyCar, ChampCar, NASCAR, stock car, sports car ... Which way to the bar?

It's all so confusicating!

I'm going to take the position that you're an Albertan who knew of this deal from the years of the former beer-sponsored "Indy" events in Vancouver and Toronto. (I'm not going to give a free plug to the beer company we all know, because they bailed on us.)

SHAKING OUR HEADS

It's OK if you remain confused at the end, because many of us who have been followers of "North American open-wheel racing" have been shaking our heads about it for years.

Those behind it have been even more confused than we are.

- No doubt you've heard the term "merger" associated with the featured racing series in this event.

To make a painfully long story mercifully short, open-wheel racing split into two factions in 1995 and has now come back into one.

Was it resolved? No. It ended.

There were business factors, but, in reality it was a hissy fit, a peeing match.

Imagine if Kevin Lowe and Brian Burke were partners in a racing venture instead of hockey general managers, and they had, uh, differing opinions on the direction of the Anaheim Oilers/Edmonton Mighty Ducks.

Also, it was NOT really a merger: One side (ChampCar) was sold off, and the other side (Indy Racing League), purchased the assets. (One of which, thankfully for us, was this weekend.)

In the end, the 13-year split only proved one thing: Race car factions are very good at holding grudges.

- It's a fundamental of advertising: If you have to explain your product, you're already in trouble.

In its pre-split heyday, this series was called IndyCar, built around the fame and legacy of the Indianapolis ("Indy") 500. Perfect.

KEPT DESIGNATION

When the Indy Racing League formed, it sued to keep the designation and won.

Then they stopped calling themselves IndyCar and went with IRL - not to be confused with the U.S. government's tax collectors.

The other guys became CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams), not to be confused with karts, as in go-karts.

CART became "ChampCar" - an improvement, but few outside the insider circles knew that's what open-wheel cars were always referred to.

To further confuse Canadians, the lawsuit had a provision that didn't cross the border, allowing the sponsoring beer vendor to keep the Indy name for their events in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Eventually, ChampCar preferred to use the term "Grand Prix" for its races. Not to be confused with a Formula One Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, the CART/ChampCar event in Surfers Paradise, Australia, never stopped being an "Indy."

- By the way, "event" usually means the whole weekend. Sometimes it just means the race.

- By the way, now, Indy Racing League is the title of the umbrella organization. It includes the IndyCar Series and Indy Lights.

Indy Lights is the developmental series for IndyCar.

In the last few years, the series was called IndyPro.

But now it is called Lights, which is what it was called before the split.

- NASCAR is also the title of the umbrella organization, of which the aptly named Canadian Tire Series is part of.

PRESIDENTIAL LINK?

Their main development series is now called Nationwide after years of being the Busch Series. Named after the U.S. president, I think.

Their top series is now known as NASCAR Sprint Cup.

It's a sponsorship deal - not to be confused with sprint cars, the bumblebee-shaped, winged warriors that bomb around dirt racetracks.

Confused yet?


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