Open wheel and road racing have been mismanaged from top to bottom for decades and the results are obvious. As far as racing goes, Nascar has become the undisputed owner of the public’s mindshare. Ask ten random people off the street what they think of when they think of racing and most will probably say “Nascar”.
All along the series had all the access they needed to cars, tracks, drivers, and media. But by splitting they confused the public, diffused their brands and reach, and hurt their teams’ sponsorship efforts.
In the past ex-F1 drivers (Emerson Fittipaldi, Mansell, Johansson, etc) would come to the US to race open wheel. These days they all go to Nascar (Montoya, Villeneuve, Speed, etc). In the end the two series sort of crawled back to one another, well maybe one more so than the other.
Now that the series have reunited, let’s hope they get it all sorted out soon enough to start making up some of that ground they lost. Hopefully it’s not too late.
More info here: http://www.motorsport.com/news/article.asp?ID=280536