Champ Car closes on race in Philadelphia UPDATE #15 Spotted leaving Philadelphia on an airplane to Indianapolis Friday afternoon was Champ Car's Joe Chrnelich, presumably in town to put the final touches on a race deal. They are still trying to finish things in time for a September 2006 race. We assume it's too late for a July 4th weekend date, but anything can be done if they really want to do it. Mark C. 08/18/05 Below are images showing the proposed Ben Franklin Parkway Champ Car track. It measures a reasonable 1.85-miles in length and is a good layout that provides for passing. It also would be quite spectacular as long as the politicians don't cave in to special interest groups who can spoil anything.
08/14/05 We did a bit of digging in Denver and found that the primary reason why the Philadelphia race would be in September instead of July 4th weekend is the fact that it would give Champ Car races on four consecutive weekends and six races in a seven week time span. That would be very difficult. The only saving grace for the July 2nd date is the fact that Cleveland, Philadelphia and Toronto are all within a reasonable driving distance from one another on consecutive weekends. Having it in September fills one of the gaps in the schedule and the weather is a bit more pleasant in September so the race could be held during the day. A night race on July 2nd with 4th of July fireworks, however, would be simply spectacular. Philadelphians turn out in the hundreds of thousands for bike races, marathons, food festivals and the like. If done right, the Philadelphia event has the potential to instantly become one of the top-3 events on the Champ Car calendar.
08/12/05 AutoRacing1.com has learned that a Memorandum of Understanding should be signed soon with Champ Car for the Philadelphia race. We are hearing that the race might run in September the first year (possibly 2006) and then move to July 4th weekend after that. 08/10/05 Our sources in Philadelphia are telling us that a decision to hold the race in Philadelphia may not be known until October, which means you should not expect to see it on the 2006 Champ Car schedule to be released in Denver. And we still don't know if the first race will be in 2006 or 2007. Mark C. 08/04/05 Below are some 2D and 3D images of the two leading sites in Philadelphia. As you can see from the 3D image of Fairmount Park, is closest to center city Philadelphia and the preferred site with regard to location. The Stadium site is not as picturesque and does not showcase the city as well.
Preferred Philadelphia Champ Car circuit
08/03/05 If a big Hollywood star gets his way, race cars could soon be roaring down the streets of Philadelphia. CBS 3’s Robin Mackintosh reports that Paul Newman paid a visit to Philadelphia Wednesday to help make that dream a reality and he says racing could benefit our area in more ways than one. Just imagine a race with speeds of 150 miles-per-hour on the Ben Franklin Parkway or down by the sports complex.
Left Three images Fairmount Park, right two images of stadium area
Our left two photos of Fairmount Park only show the southeastern tip of the park, known as the Ben Franklin Parkway. Fairmount Park winds its way up both sides of the Schuylkill River and includes the Mann Music Center (an open air theater), the Philadelphia Zoo, The Art Museum and famous Boathouse Row. Fairmount Park is the largest city park in the world at over 9200 acres. In the past, vintage races have been held in Fairmount Park.
Paul Newman stepped out of a stretch limo in the shadow of City Hall this afternoon, but by this time next summer he could be stepping into a race car doing nearly 200-miles-per-hour through the streets of Center City. “These cars are so aerodynamically built they will stick to the ceiling at 140-miles an hour,” said Newman.
Newman was welcomed to Philadelphia by Councilman Frank Rizzo, who sees several possible venues for champ car racing, including the Parkway, the river drives, or the sports complex. He says it is a race that could bring in millions for the city.
“On the low side there could be a $50-million impact on the city’s economy,” said Rizzo.
Most drivers along the Ben Franklin Parkway admire the scenery, the fountains, and the museums. Paul Newman sees something very different, the ability to do 180-miles-an-hour down a Center City street to the roar of engines and the roar of the crowds. “We've had a brief run at the coarse and which looks really exciting. It's nice and wide with opportunities to pass,” said Newman.
Meeting with Newman today were various city officials, including the police and fire departments, and for a brief time the mayor.
“It’s a reciprocal agreement. Champ car gets a great race and you get a three day festival,” said Newman. So Wednesday, Newman was riding in a limo, but the actor and race car driver has different kinds of vehicles in mind for Philadelphia’s future. He is hoping city officials agree and give him the green flag for racing next summer. More at KYW.com (See Video link on the page too from tonight’s local news in Philly. Take Poll here) 08/03/05 Actor and longtime racing team co-owner Paul Newman is scheduled to stop by City Hall today. Newman's visit is not social. He is in town to meet with city officials about possibly bringing a Champ Car World Series race to Philadelphia. Newman co-owns the Newman/Haas team in the Champ Car series. He and Chicago-area businessman Carl Haas have been Indy-car racing partners since 1983. Mario Andretti was their first driver. Newman, 80, also has raced sports cars.
Newman and Champ Car officials are expected to brief city officials on the advantages of having a race in Philadelphia. His presence could be viewed as a good sign for Philly's prospects to land a race. Larry Needle, executive director of the Philadelphia Sports Congress, said yesterday that no news announcement is likely following the meeting.
Needle said that research shows that race revenue estimates for cities range from $35 million to $65 million. Previously, Needle said possible venues for a race include the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Fairmount Park, along with the sports complex in South Philadelphia. Philadelphia Inquirer 08/03/05 Actor and racing team co-owner Paul Newman and Champ Car World Series representatives scheduled a meeting to discuss staging an auto race in the city streets.
City Councilman Frank Rizzo confirmed Newman would attend a City Hall meeting Wednesday to consider potential race course sites including the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Fairmount Park, and the sports complex area of south Philadelphia.
Rizzo has led an effort to bring the turbocharged, open-wheel, open-cockpit racers, which can top 200 mph, to the city. "I'm cautiously optimistic," he said Tuesday.
"I think they would love to be in the Northeast," said Larry Needle, executive director of the Philadelphia Sports Congress, part of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Needle said Champ Car races draw international media coverage and an average of 150,000 fans, and estimated hosting a race could bring the city $25 million to $50 million in revenue. AP Story
[Editor's Note: AutoRacing1.com can confirm that not only did Paul Newman fly into Philadelphia on Tuesday, we are told so did RuSPORT team owner Carl Russo and other Champ Car officials. Mario Andretti, longtime friend of Paul Newman is also putting his weight behind this race, so we suspect he is driving down to Philly from Nazareth PA to be at the meeting as well.
We were told this would happen while in San Jose last weekend. An agreement is getting very close and Paul Newman is there to help seal the deal. While a race in Fairmount Park has been talked about extensively, the Sports Complex area in South Philadelphia around the Baseball and Football stadiums feature wide open parking lots and other facilities needed for a race. While not as picturesque as Fairmount Park, this site would be far less disruptive to the city. We think the Park should get the nod, but we’ll know soon. We are told a race as early as 2006 is entirely possible - on July 4th weekend, July 2nd to be exact for 2006. The plan is to make this an annual July 4th celebration (Independence Day) in the city that is home to America's Declaration of Independence from the British over 200 years ago.] 07/31/05 We are hearing that there is a big meeting coming up in Philadelphia that will involve Paul Newman and other heavyweights. Could it be a meeting to seal a Champ Car deal with the city of Philadelphia? We hear a July 4th weekend event is in the works, probably as early as 2006. This makes sense as Champ Car works to complete all deals prior to a schedule announcement in Denver in two weeks. Mark C. 06/03/05 Word here in Milwaukee is that Champ Car is getting closer on a deal with Philadelphia, but nothing is signed yet. Mark C. 06/02/05 Discussions are under way to bring a Champ Car World Series race to Philadelphia next year, according to Bill Fleischman of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS. Philadelphia Sports Congress Exec Dir Larry Needle said that Champ Car is still researching sites and that the racing league “wants to have a race in the northeastern [U.S.].” Needle: “It probably will be a couple months before a decision is made” PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS 05/31/05 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. As the 89th Indianapolis 500 is staged today, Philadelphia tourism officials are keeping their fingers crossed. A Grand Prix race using Indy cars is considering coming to the city. The Champ Car World Series features Grand Prix racing using Indy style cars on the streets on various cities around the world, and Councilman Frank Rizzo says they have set their sites on Philadelphia: "This is the real deal. This is Paul Newman. This is Mario Andretti. This is the big names in Indy car racing."
Officials from the Champ Car World Series have been in Philadelphia recently, checking out possible avenues on which the race could be run, according to Larry Needle of the Philadelphia Sports Congress: "The governing bodies certainly have a real interest in the Parkway. We're looking at several locations within Fairmount Park." If the Champ Car World Series comes to Philly, Needle says it would draw racing fans from the entire northeast. He hopes for a final decision within two months, leading to a race as early as next year. KYW1060.com 05/31/05 As we reported to you back in March exclusively, Champ Car was in talks with Philadelphia about a race. It looks like a local Philly reporter got wind of the news. A forum member reports - Last night on our local AM all news station (KYW), they carried a story on Champ Car coming to Philadelphia! According to the report, Champ Car officials either already were or will soon be in Philadelphia to scout potential track locations. The report mentioned the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and parts of Fairmont Park as a likely location. Philadelphia city officials have expectations that a race may be able to be held as early as next season. This report agrees with our March report. 03/26/05 AutoRacing1.com can reveal exclusively that Champ Car has had a number of meetings with Philadelphia and although it was not revealed that any deal had been done to bring the Champ Car World Series to the City of Brotherly Love, we were told not to be surprised if something does come out of those meetings. As we understand it, the plan is to hold a race on July 4th weekend (July 2nd) in Fairmount Park (Photos left and right) starting in 2006, complete with Fireworks and other holiday festivities. Champ Car has been wanting to get back into the NE market and Philadelphia appears to be the best bet at this point. One of the goals of the race is to build the Philadelphia brand and raise awareness of the City of Brotherly Love as an international sports-minded city and with Champ Car being so international (USA, Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, Korea, Australia) it's the perfect fit. The IRL is pretty much a domestic series (they only race in Japan because of Honda) and their schedule is already pretty full with 18 races. We also hear that the IRL may be hanging their hat on ISC building a 3/4-mile oval track on Staten Island for their return to the NE. Mark C. 09/01/04 Chris Economaki writes in this week's National Speed Sport News that "a new name in U.S. motorsport, Ritter, Inc. appeared in the lavish announcement of a July 2, 2006, Philadelphia Grand Prix in the Park, distributed at the Nazareth Speedway’s final race over the weekend. Though the type of car or cars that will race was not announced, a baker’s dozen of sponsors were. IRL officials report they have been approached about participation. The event is planned on a long and narrow circuit in Fairmount Park, reminiscent of the old Avus in pre-war Berlin. Ritter, Inc., headquartered in King of Prussia, Pa., has an enviable reputation in strategic marketing, advertising and brand building. The aim of the event is threefold: 1. Build the Philadelphia brand and raise awareness of the City of Brotherly Love as an international sports-minded city; 2. Develop a source of yearly tourism dollars for its marketplace; 3. Use motorsport as a centerpiece to a series of historical sports and entertainment events stressing the family experience. Ritter’s racing guru is Lee McDonald, CEO of Prova. McDonald, a former driver, was involved in the early days of Florida’s Homestead Motorsports Complex and in the 1995 CART season opener in downtown Miami."