NASCAR's days in Montreal may soon be over UPDATE There will be no word on the future of Montreal’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race for a few more weeks, according to the promoters of the event.
The fifth annual NAPA Auto Parts 200 runs on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Friday and Saturday, the final race in the five-year contract between promoter International Speedway Corp. and its subsidiary, Stock-Car Montréal, and Park Jean Drapeau, in which the racetrack lies.
Organizers of the race last fall began discussions with the Quebec government for a tourism-department grant of $500,000 to promote the race beyond Quebec’s borders to bring more fans in for the 74-lap race. That sum presumably would have been matched by the federal government.
But in early July, the provincial government turned down the request, saying that promoters hadn’t provided sufficient data to show that the race has a positive economic impact on the city and province.
Organizers argued that they're not in a position – nor is it their responsibility – to tell the government how much tax revenue is collected from tourists and the NASCAR family of roughly 1,500 that comes to the city from across North America. Fans arrive annually from across Quebec and throughout Ontario, the Maritime provinces and the northeastern U.S.
It is now up to ISC and Stock-Car Montréal to determine whether it wants to return to Montreal, which for four years has embraced the event with good crowds for a race considered by NASCAR and its teams as among the finest of the Nationwide Series and a favorite destination. Organizers must negotiate, among other things, a new lease with Jean Drapeau Park to run here.
"Stock-Car Montréal is thrilled to host the fifth consecutive NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve,” SCM vice-president Andrew Gurtis said in a release Wednesday. “This weekend's events are major highlights on the NASCAR Nationwide, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car and NASCAR Canadian Tire series schedules.
“The past four years have produced compelling storylines, intense on-track competition and unforgettable moments at this world-class facility.
“Looking ahead to 2012 and the potential future of Stock-Car Montréal, we are encouraged by the strong interest from race fans, media, sanctioning bodies and the Montréal community for continuing this popular race weekend. Discussions are ongoing with all relevant parties in Montréal concerning future plans. We expect to have a decision in the next few weeks and will make an announcement at the appropriate time."
NASCAR has not yet released schedules for its three national series – the elite Sprint Cup, the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series. It usually does so by this time of year. Montreal Gazette07/06/11 They failed in Japan, they failed in Mexico, and now it seems they will fail in Canada as well. Canada's only NASCAR race might be in jeopardy putting NASCAR back as a USA-only sport, which is all it really is.
The Quebec government on Wednesday rejected developer Francois Dumontier's request for $1 million in government assistance, half each from Quebec and Ottawa, to help offset an anticipated $1.6 million deficit.
"The developer has not satisfactorily proven to the Department of Tourism that it would be profitable for them to invest in the event," Isabelle Lord, spokeswoman for Tourism Minister Nicole Menard, said.
This funding shortfall likely means August's Nationwide Series race will be the end of NASCAR racing at the Gilles Villeneuve track on Montreal's Ile Notre-Dame.
The city of Montreal's contract with International Speedway Corporation and its promoter expired June 30. It is the only such event in the country.
The city reacted strongly several years ago when it lost the Formula One Grand Prix, which brings wealthy international tourists and huge parties to Montreal. The city did get the F1 race back.
Montreal's mayor, however, seemed unfazed by the possible loss of the NASCAR race.
"Efforts were made," Mayor Gerald Tremblay said. "It's unfortunate, but maybe there will be other events in the future." AP (Related Story)