For Kevin Kalkhoven it's 'Game On'

 by Steven N. Levinson
October 27, 2005

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Chip Ganassi's recent proposal for a "Mini Championship" between IRL and Champ Car's "Super Teams" smacks more of desperation than of rational thought. It is wholly impractical on numerous grounds. For example, can you imagine Newman/Haas having to prepare three of its own cars for the 2006 Long Beach Grand Prix and another two for Ganassi or Penske. No one, not even God Almighty would ever prepare a Penske Car.....except Roger S. Penske himself.

Let me try to get this matter straight in my own head. Floyd Ganassi, Jr. is now a "peacemaker"...a man who is trying to save Open Wheel Racing in America. The last time we heard from Chip Ganassi was last year when he was fronting for Anton Hulman George by feebly attempting to buy Cosworth. For what purpose? Ah, yes...to kill Champ Car.

Kevin Kalkhoven and Robert Clarke meet in Las Vegas
Mark Cipolloni/AutoRacing1.com

But the Chipster's latest overture comes almost 4 weeks after Robert Clarke's mysterious appearance at Champ Car's weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Clarke tried his best to convince Kevin Kalkhoven to adopt Honda's IRL engine formula as a prelude to unification of Champ Car and IRL. Kalkhoven was not deluded by Clarke's overtures. Clarke's record for duplicitous and contradictory statements over the last 3 years certainly did not inspire Kalkhoven's confidence.

I mean, this was the same Robert Clarke who invited Anton Hulman George to Motegi for CART's last race in 2002. This was also the very same Robert Clarke who made Adrian Fernandez and Bobby Rahal his "GEISHAS" with their last minute defections to IRL just before the opening of the 2004 season at Long Beach.

Kalkhoven is brilliant, but even if he was a clueless idiot, he would know that Robert Clarke was someone who may not be divulging his entire agenda. Clarke was summarily rebuffed and sent on his way.

A week later, he declared that Honda would be available to IRL as an engine supplier through 2009, even if that meant being "sole supplier". So much for the vaunted Honda tradition of being in racing for the "competition." Like two desperate, lonely and rejected "wallflowers," Honda and IRL can now march into oblivion..... hand in hand!

Much has been written about CART's bankruptcy hearing, the attempt by IRL to take Long Beach, buy Cosworth, and their most recent outrage, the attempt to steal the Montreal Grand Prix. Yes, Kalkhoven outsmarted the IRL "brain trust" at every turn.

Then came Robin Miller's article that mentioned "Tortuous Interference" and the potential for a lawsuit by Champ Car against IRL, Anton Hulman George and Normand Legault. The result? Legault went into the Laurentian Mountains, Anton began sending errand boys to seek a rapprochement with Champ Car and Roger S. Penske became a deaf mute.

This was the very same Penske who gloated to the media after CART's financial collapse, "there will be one series, the "sponsors" will make that decision."  Penske's silence now is deafening!

Many paddock observers believe that it was the all powerful Penske who induced Toyota and Honda to abandon CART, in hopes of taking its teams, drivers and venues. Who knows for sure, but the coincidental events are mindboggling. Curiously, after the term "Tortuous Interference" was mentioned, Penske went silent.

Kevin Kalkhoven on the phone making another deal

Kevin Kalkhoven built JDS Uniphase into an industry powerhouse. He knows the "GAME" of "Mergers and Acquisitions". That's a "GAME" involving Wall Street Investment Bankers, high powered brokerage houses and the best of New York City law firms. Indeed, high stakes gambling, involving millions of dollars. Kalkhoven has many years of experience in challenging, outwitting and outfoxing the opposition. His record of accomplishment stands on its own merits. He "built" an empire by his own wits and cunning, not by "Inheritance."

When he became involved in CART's moribund carcass, he saw, as he has described many times, the enormous potential for growth and development. But it was the challenge of the "GAME" (i.e., outsmarting and outfoxing the opposition) that fired his passion. That passion was further inflamed by the "Man Who Took His Hammer to Work Everyday," the brilliant visionary Anton Hulman George. Kalkhoven fired back with the CART Bankruptcy victory, the purchase of the Long Beach Grand Prix, the purchase of Cosworth and Pi, the resurrection of Formula Atlantic and the most recent successes of Edmonton and San Jose. Do you see a trend there?

Champ Car has many challenges ahead. Their immediate needs are putting the Philadelphia race on the 2006 calendar, placing Korea, China and Otaru, Japan on the 2007 calendar, fixing the issues in Montreal and Mexico City, enhancing their network TV Package, obtaining a series sponsor and more team sponsors, as well as more teams on the 2007 grid. In my view, they have no time to waste on Chip Ganassi's "Mini Championship," any other mind games from Robert Clarke or worrying about the grid for the 2006 Indy 500.

In other words...................................For Kalkhoven it's "Game On!"

The author can be contacted at SteveL@autoracing1.com

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