Two of Champ Car's quartet of owners are now partners, Gerry Forsythe and Dan Pettit now combining operations to create Forsythe/Pettit Racing. This is not the first time Forsythe has had a partner as for year's Player's Canadian tobacco was part of the team name, and prior to that Forsythe enjoyed a relationship with Barry Green to field Jacques Villeneuve for two years in the mid-nineties.
Pettit picked up the scraps at RuSPORT after the team's principal owner, Carl Russo, left to pursue other business interests after the 2006 season. A singleton effort for Justin Wilson was merged into a technical alliance with Paul Gentilozzi to form "RSPORTS" for this season's first ten races, though that dissolved just prior to the two-race European swing.
It was announced before Surfer's Paradise that RuSPORT would close, the economics of fielding a single-car team in Colorado not making much sense. What was supposed to be the prototypical new team for the revitalized Champ Car World Series, as Russo brought A.J. Allmendinger through the ranks before the two parted ways midway through 2006, is now consigned to the history books after a four-year run. Ironically it was at Forsythe Racing where Allmendinger turned his Champ Car career around, and then bolted for the riches in NASCAR where he then struggled through his rookie Nextel Cup season.
Wilson reiterated after winning at Assen he would love to stay with RuSPORT and CDW, though since rumors of RuSPORT's demise began to emerge he was thought to be the front-runner in the sweepstakes to take over the coveted number one ride at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing vacated by four-time series champion Sebastien Bourdais. This news could mean Wilson is shifting to Forsythe/Pettit Racing and join Paul Tracy, forming a talented and experienced driver lineup.
Official confirmation is forthcoming, and anything much before a few weeks before the 2008 season is surprising. Tracy is likely to stay as he has three years remaining on his current contract. Mario Dominguez, Oriol Servia and David Martinez were rotated around the second car as money dictated, and it would be a surprise to see anyone other than Martinez, of those three, return for '08. It also is worth noting that if this merger of operations fails to adopt a third car, the one fielded by RuSPORT this season, then Champ Car's lineup could slip to 16.
Forsythe's 2007 season was admittedly one of the weakest in its illustrious history; despite a victory at Cleveland for Tracy, the Canadian had only three other top-five finishes and finished outside the top ten in points. Servia did a terrific job in his 11 starts for the team before he was replaced.
Regardless of who is in the cars both Forsythe and Pettit are upbeat about their chances. "I know that Dan (Pettit) and I share the same goal and that is to compete for a championship," Forsythe said. "This partnership will enable us to do that and I look forward to a successful season for Forsythe/Pettit Racing in 2008 and for many years to come."
Pettit concurred for the most part: "I am thrilled to be partnering with Jerry Forsythe. The entire Forsythe team has experience competing at the highest levels and winning championships. I think combining our efforts will give us a team that can contend for a title immediately."
Pettit first entered Champ Car as a co-owner in PKV Racing in 2004, with series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven and 1996 series champion Jimmy Vasser, and it remains to be seen how this newest partnership will affect that team.