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Grand-Am may team with Champ Car at LB UPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement. A 2006 return with Champ Car to Mexico City is still under discussion.  Check out AutoRacing1.com's Home page for the details. 10/04/05 Looks like this rumor will become 'fact' on Wednesday.  What the local media is saying:
Grand American leaves Fontana, heads to Long Beach
By Louis Brewster and A.J. Perez, Staff Writers

The Grand American Series the road racing circuit owned by members of NASCAR's France family is apparently leaving California Speedway and heading to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach lineup.

A news conference is scheduled for Wednesday when series and Long Beach race officials are expected to announce the deal that will bring the cars featured in the 24 Hours of Daytona to the streets of Long Beach, sources with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed.

The 2006 LBGP is set for April 7-9.

Jim Michaelian, the CEO of the Grand Prix Association, declined comment. California Speedway president Gillian Zucker was unavailable for comment.

While Long Beach evidently is gaining a date, it also appears California Speedway will lose the series in 2006. Both the Grand Am Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup have been part of the Fontana racing schedule since 2003.

Nate Siebens, a Grand-Am spokesman, would neither confirm or deny the Long Beach date. However, he did say talks between the sanctioning body and the speedway, owned by International Speedway Corp., are ongoing.

Jim France, a member of the Grand Am leadership, also is a member of the ISC board.

10/04/05 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I'm a little disappointed that the American LeMans Series won't be at Long Beach. Instead the Grand-Am series will be with Champ Car during the race weekend (rumored). There have been a lot of rumors and speculation that the Grand-Am may be sharing the race weekend with Champ Car at Portland, Monterrey, Mexico, Cleveland and Montreal. Why did the American LeMans Series/Champ Car weekend race schedule fall apart? Alistair Fennell, Springfield MO.

Dear Alistair, Champ Car will be racing with ALMS in Houston, and as far as we know, that is the only venue for 2006. In 2006 Grand-Am will race with Champ Car in Long Beach (rumored), and Mexico City. We might see Grand-Am with Champ Car or NASCAR Busch in Montreal in 2007. We predict you will see Champ Car doing more business with the France family each year as time goes on. At one time CART was an ally with Penske because they raced on many of his ovals (Nazareth, Michigan, Fontana and Homestead, actually CART raced only one year at Homestead under ISC before it was switched to an IRL event) and then ISC bought those tracks from Penske in 2000. When CART moved away from the ovals to more road racing, they became an adversary rather than a potential business partner and the France family aligned with Tony George's IRL series because they would race at their tracks, in essence becoming the business partner to ISC that CART would have been when Penske sold his tracks to ISC.  More recently we have seen the trend turn the other way, the France family doing more business with CART/Champ Car and less with the IRL.  Perhaps by coincidence, or perhaps not,  the negative media attacks on Champ Car are almost non-existent today.

Grand-Am suffers with horrible attendance at most of its road course events. We believe the France family likes the idea of aligning Grand-Am with Champ Car because Champ Car has many successful urban events and that gives them an opportunity to showcase their product to a wider audience. We are still of the opinion that Grand-Am cars simply look too ugly and are a bit too dumbed down to ever become hugely successful, but that might change over time.

Bottom line: Champ Car has made a concerted effort to align itself with the powerful France family and in the long run that could be a good thing for them, and a bad thing for the IRL, whose future becomes increasingly more doubtful with each passing day. We laid out our reasons for why the IRL model would eventually not succeed ten years ago and all of our predictions are coming true. While everyone now realizes how bad the IRL has been for the sport, and that it eventually must be merged back into Champ Car, doing so with Tony George and his lieutenants (who feed at the Hulman George money trough) in the way won't be easy. Mark C. 

10/03/05 Hearing that Grand-Am and the Grand Prix of Long Beach will announce Wednesday that Grand-Am will race at Long Beach with Champ Car in 2006. We hear a sponsor will also be announced. Will Toyota sponsor that race too with the Lexus name since Toyota runs with Lexus in Grand-Am? 10/03/05 It was originally thought that ALMS would team with Champ Car at Long Beach in 2006 in place of Trans-Am. However, AutoWeek is reporting that a Saturday Grand-Am sprint at Long Beach might win out over a return to California Speedway. Grand-Am is also expected to team with Champ Car in Mexico City again in 2006.

The 2006 ALMS schedule was released with no Long Beach race listed.

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