After hearing that there are still 5 (or 3) major car companies still considering joining, or atleast attending the meetings, some things that were said really got me going.
First of all, with or without an economic downturn, we need to get a new equipment package out in 2011. That was the target set up by the ICS and it needs to be attained. Personally, I'm tired of watching speed boats circle IMS, and one of the main things when I decided to follow CCWS drivers and teams over to the ICS was that they had announced they would be introducing a new equipment package in 2010. Well, when bi-mergification occured, they pushed it back to 2011, which was understandable, otherwise you get CCWS teams using cars for two years, then buying a new chassis. So, I could handle that one, but now pushing it back to 2012 would be hurtful to the league. I think we need the new car and new engine package to turn a corner with fans and sponsorship.
And this whole economic mess we are in should not deter the ICS. First of all, all signs point to the economy rebounding late 2009 which gives us plenty of time to get back on track. Second of all, the new engine package and chassis package (along with a new rules package hopefully put together by Tony Cotman) will lower the costs in their series to a point where buying the chassis and running a full season in 2011 (or 2012 as it appears will happen) should actually cost less then running a full season now-a-days.
Ganassi says that it is about $10 Million per car to be up front consistently. So lets say a mid-pack is $6-$7 Million and a third tier operation is about $4-$6 Million. I think NHL Racing was winning the 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 Champ Car World Series Drivers Titles with an approximate $6-$7 Million budget (no source on that, just something I remember reading). The goal of the ICS, especially with the new chassis package unfortunately being spec (this is a story for another day) should be to dramatically lower costs. One thing all the team owners will agree upon from CCWS and the IRL is that the CCWS budgets were lower, and that is one of the things that should be brought into the ICS.
People keep saying that the IRL is such good "bang-for-your-marketing-buck" with these inflated budgets, imagine if the budget were slashed by 30-40%? Add to that better racing and multiple engine suppliers, and you've got yourself people chomping at the bit to enter the series as team owners. Forget about ever having to worry about filling 33 at Indy.
The IRL is simply procrastinating on this one in my opinion. Sure the engine summits are a good idea, but they are taking so long to finalize which is pushing the date of new engine/chassis packages being unveiled. The car package is one area the ICS needs improvement in, so they need to get on it, and they need to dramatically lower operating costs for the teams involved, and that is why this new car is so important.