MIAMI—Single-seater motor racing in the United States is set to be re-unified in one competition—12 years after a bitter split—as talks between the Indy Racing League and Champ Car World Series near conclusion.
"We are close but we are not there yet. We are still working through a possible agreement but we are optimistic," Fred Nation, an official from the Indy Racing League (IRL), told Reuters.
Nation, whose organisation runs the famous Indianapolis 500 race, said that announcement could be made as early as Friday.
Negotiations have been held between the rival series in the past, most recently in the autumn and in early 2006, but Nation said that the talks looked much more fruitful this time.
"We have never been this close," he said.
Champ Car, formerly known as the CART series, also confirmed that talks were at an advanced stage.
"We are not there yet but we are inching ever so closer," said David Higdon, spokesman for Champ Car World Series.
"There is obviously a strong intention to enhance the sport through unification," he added.
The IRL, led by Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George split from CART in 1996 and both formats have found it hard in recent years to compete with the increased popularity of NASCAR stock car racing.
With it's main format divided into two warring camps, NASCAR has flourished and has established a dominant position in terms of live attendance, television ratings and sponsorship.
The result has been a drift of talent away from single-seaters—the 2007 IRL champion, Scotsman, Dario Franchitti and 2006 winner Sam Hornish Junior have both moved over to NASCAR.
CART declared bankruptcy in 2003 and although the series continued as Champ Car last year, it lost the two title sponsors Bridgestone and Ford.
Single-seat racing, known as open-wheel racing in the U.S., features, like Formula One, cars with a cockpit built for high-speed racing on tracks.
While neither party would discuss the content of the current talks, some media reports have said the final stumbling block is finding agreement over which races from Champ Car will be retained as part of the new IRL calendar.
The reports say that Champ Car races outside of the U.S—in Edmonton, Canada, Mexico and Surfer's Paradise Australia—would be kept as part of the unified programme.
If the deal is completed this week it would allow for a unified competition to be in place by the time the IRL season is due to start on March 29 at the Homestead Speedway, south of Miami.