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More on Phoenix race approval
PHOENIX - Brace for a high-speed car race through the streets of downtown Phoenix starting in November 2007.

On a 7-2 vote Tuesday, the City Council gave Arizona Grand Prix the green light to use the downtown streets for a three-day festival of speed and the Champ Car World Series race.

"I'm very, very pleased," said Dale Jensen, one of the promoters of the race who was beaming after council approved the five-year deal. "It's up to us now to follow through on what we've said, and we're confident that we can do that."

The vote ends a fierce battle between competing organizations: Phoenix International Race, which hosts a NASCAR championship race in November, and Champ Car, which runs races all over the country.

PIR executives, who were concerned about losing attendance at their November race in Avondale, and Champ officials agreed to greater time separation between the two events and promoting each other's events.

A sound expert testified that the race would have no noise impact on Maricopa County's emergency call center, which sits on the corner of the racetrack. His testimony was an attempt to assuage concerns critics have raised about adverse effects from the sound of the cars.

Race promoters have to work with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas to ease their concerns about the noise, traffic and public safety impact of the race.

Mary Millard, with the Communications Division of the county Sheriff's Office, said that the sheriff would "post a tank and a swat team to stop the race" if it disrupted the emergency call center.

Jensen, part owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns, along with business partner Brad Yonover, first proposed the race in May.

The only dissenters were council members Tom Simplot and Peggy Bilsten.

They worried about public safety and street closures, which would further congest traffic snarls created by construction on light rail and other downtown projects.

"I can not imagine having one more project," Bilsten said. "I believe this is another inconvenience for downtown."

Councilman Mike Johnson said the city needed to do more to attract more downtown events, especially because they have recently lost some events, such as the Insight.com Bowl, to other cities.

Those losses cost the city's millions of dollars in sales taxes and other revenues.

"This event is about coming up with events and activities that support the tax base and economy in Phoenix," Johnson said.  Arizona Republic

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