Canadian race promoters wait for bankruptcy report
Promoters of the three Canadian stops on the Champ Car circuit can only wait to see what happens amid reports that the open-wheel motor racing series is about to declare bankruptcy.
Speed TV reported Tuesday that Champ Car will file for bankruptcy in the next few days, nullifying the need for a proposed merger with the rival Indy Racing League.
IRL boss Tony George had proposed adding Champ Car events in Edmonton, Long Beach, Calif., and Surfer's Paradise, Australia, with possibly one other, to the 2008 IRL schedule as part of the merger. That could leave the races in Toronto and Mont-Tremblant, Que., out in the cold.
Now, it appears that the IRL may be the only top open wheel series left operating, which could be the end for the Toronto and Mont-Tremblant events. "We're waiting for a clear signal on what's going to happen," said Normand Prieur, spokesman for Mont-Tremblant. "We have a contract with Champ Car and we have a date for the race (June 27-29). "We are not commenting on what's being written." Champ Car officials could not be reached for comment.
Jim Haskins, president of the three-year-old Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton, told the Edmonton Sun this week that work was going ahead to stage the race, whether the two series merged or not. Edmonton drew 167,000 spectators last year, making it one of the circuit's best-attended events. "Champ Car has always said that if any kind of alignment happened with Indy, Edmonton would stay," Haskins told the Sun.
Champ Car is scheduled to begin the season at Long Beach April 18-20. The Toronto race is set for July 4-6 and Edmonton July 18-20. George was in Japan on the weekend looking to have promoters of the IRL event at Motegi, also scheduled for April 20, move to a later date to accommodate the coveted Long Beach street race in a merger.
Mont-Tremblant would clash with an IRL race at Richmond International Speedway, while Toronto is on the same weekend as an IRL road race at Watkins Glen, N.Y. Edmonton's date is the same as an IRL race at Mid-Ohio. The 16-race IRL opens March 29 with a night race at Homestead, Fla. If it joins the IRL, Surfer's Paradise would be the last race on the calendar Oct. 24-26.
George split from the former CART series in 1996 to form the IRL, which raced mostly on ovals, while CART was a mix of ovals and road courses. George's ace card was that he controlled the classic Indianapolis 500. The split hurt both series, which have lost vast sponsorship and TV territory to the NASCAR stock car series.
Team owners Gerry Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven bought CART out of bankruptcy court in 2004 and renamed it Champ Car. Champ Car veteran Paul Tracy of Toronto drives for Forsythe's team, while Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, Que., has yet to be confirmed for a ride with PKV Racing. Both teams were expected to continue racing whether or not there was a merger. The Canadian Press