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San Jose GP sponsor to step down a notch UPDATE 2 First revealed by AutoRacing1.com weeks ago, this rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today with this report. The San Jose Grand Prix has lost Taylor Woodrow as its title sponsor after race organizers nearly doubled its price tag for the privilege.

The $600,000 or so asking price for the 2006 title sponsor was apparently too steep for Taylor Woodrow, a real estate and housing concern with six subdivisions under construction and several more in the planning stages. The company will instead be the "presenting sponsor" of the race for about the same $320,000 price tag it paid in 2005 to become title sponsor. Taylor Woodrow signed a two-year contract to sponsor the Champ Car series race in San Jose, with the option of being either the title sponsor or presenting sponsor. The deal also gives Taylor Woodrow three one-year sponsorship options running through 2009.The inaugural Grand Prix lost several million dollars in 2005, organizers say, despite drawing 153,767 for the three-day event. The event did earn about $520,000 for the Canary Fund, the race's official charity.

Organizers blamed startup costs for the first year lost and said the 2006 race would likely be in the red too, whether or not the Grand Prix gets a new title sponsor.

Grand Prix organizers are talking with several potential sponsors to replace Taylor Woodrow as title sponsor, reportedly including Comcast and Budweiser but no announcement is imminent, organizers say.

The London-based Taylor Woodrow Homes Inc. has its western regional headquarters in Irvine. It is expanding aggressively into the South Bay and used the Grand Prix as of a way of getting its name out to the general public, Michael Fosum, Taylor Woodrow's western regional president, said during the July 29-31 race.

"Talk about branding. One day they were unknown and the next day their name is all over San Jose," says Michael Miller, CEO and executive producer of the San Jose-based American Musical Theater.

Taylor Woodrow has become American Musical Theater's first full-season sponsor this year, contributing about $100,000 in cash and in-kind contributions.

San Jose is one of only two events in the 13-race Champ Car series without a title sponsor. Portland, which hasn't had a title sponsor for three years, is the other. Las Vegas also did not have a title sponsor but was dropped from the series after its second race in 2005. It has been replaced by Elkhart, Wis., which has an established racetrack known as "Road America."

"From Champ Car's standpoint, it is important that a race have a title sponsor," says spokesman Tom McGovern. "You want to show that there is commercial interest."

From Taylor Woodrow's perspective, second billing will be just fine, thanks.

"The Taylor Woodrow executive team has determined, after working closely with race officials in planning this year's event, that securing the "presented by" sponsor position for the 2006 San Jose Grand Prix represents an appropriate level of involvement at this time," says Mike Forsum, Taylor Woodrow Western Regional president. "We are confident that the 2006 San Jose Grand Prix Presented by Taylor Woodrow will continue its growth and development." 

11/29/05 We have it on good word that the title sponsor for the San Jose GP Champ Car race, Taylor Woodrow, will be stepping down to be just a presenting sponsor in 2006. The good news is that another, perhaps bigger sponsor, may step in to take the title sponsor role. Drumrolls please.....

11/10/05 This San Jose Mercury News article says, For now, next year's Grand Prix event lacks a title sponsor.  Housing developer Taylor Woodrow paid $320,000 for naming rights in 2005 in what was called a multiyear deal, but the company's name was not included in current press material. Bob Singleton said the company has the option of returning as title sponsor or becoming a presenting sponsor.

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