"Indy Split" - New Book Investigates the Big Money Battle That Nearly Destroyed Indy Racing


Austin, TX, March 11, 2021. In a new book that will be on shelves in time for the 2021 Indy 500, long-time motorsports reporter John Oreovicz dives deep into the divisive battle between CART and the Indy Racing League. With insightful reporting, Oreovicz recounts the political infighting within the industry which climaxed with a 12-year “Split” from 1996 to 2007 between competing forms of Indy car racing and prevented the sport from achieving its potential.

The book traces the roots of Indy car racing’s dysfunction, which began in 1945 when Tony Hulman rescued the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from potential redevelopment. Over the next 75 years, the Hulman-George family used the stature of the Speedway to carve out a powerful position in American auto racing that sometimes resulted in conflict with Indy car competitors. A volatile period in the late 1970s sparked the formation of Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART), and tensions ramped up even more when Hulman’s grandson, Tony George, assumed power in 1990.

In unprecedented detail, Indy Split uncovers how the Split forced Indy car fans, sponsors, broadcasters and participants to choose sides. The book brings to light the confusion and animosity which caused unnecessary damage to the sport, and covers how negotiations driven by legendary racer Mario Andretti and actor/racer Paul Newman ended the Split in 2008, only to have George to walk away less than three years later. The long struggle for stability was finally resolved in 2020 when Roger Penske acquired IMS and the IndyCar Series, securing a bright future for the Speedway, the Indy 500, and the sport.

According to the author, “My growing interest in Indy car racing in the late 1970s coincided with the original USAC vs. CART split. I was just a kid, but I studied the roots of the conflict and I was as fascinated by the politics, the personalities and the posturing as I was by the cars and the competition.
As I followed the sport as a fan through the ‘80s, it was clear the CART-USAC conflict was not totally resolved. The Indy 500 was sustained by CART’s growth, yet a crucial part of CART’s success was the inclusion of the Indy 500 in its championship. There was an uneasy coexistence, but still a lot of hard feelings on the USAC side that occasionally flared up during the month of May at IMS.
The 1996 IRL-CART split was a civil war and an ugly divorce, all wrapped into one. No matter how it started or who was responsible for prolonging it, the split took a toll on anyone who cared about Indy car racing. Friendships were strained. Historic venues and events were lost, key sponsors and manufacturers departed. NASCAR was the only real winner in the Indy car split.
I started writing this book in 2017, but I’ve been doing the research for most of my life. Over the last 45 years, it was my privilege to attend or cover nearly 500 Indy car races. I wanted to tell this important story in an accurate, entertaining, and hopefully, reasonably objective way.” 

Available May 30th, Indy Split is a fascinating, authoritative and overdue account of the big money battle that nearly destroyed the sport of Indy car racing. Longtime motorsports reporter John Oreovicz began attending the Indianapolis 500 as a teenager in the late ‘70s, allowing him to witness the sport’s growth as an avid fan before documenting its decline as a journalist. With a foreword by Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee Robin Miller, arguably Indy car racing’s most vocal advocate, this is the real story of The Split from one of the sport’s most respected voices.

Indy Split: The Big Money Battle That Nearly Destroyed Indy Racing
(John Oreovicz, Octane Press)
320 Pages, $35.00
ISBN 9781642340563