Vegas race could return in 2009 UPDATE #2 Las Vegas will have a street race in 2009 if Jim Freudenberg has his way.
Although many were quick to write off the Vegas Grand Prix as a one-time affair after it was taken off the 2008 Champ Car World Series schedule, Freudenberg, who ran the downtown Vegas Grand Prix for promoters Dale Jensen and Bradley Yonover, has been working behind the scenes to revive the event.
Why is he trying to resurrect the race when, by most accounts, the promoters lost millions on the venture and many downtown businesses complained the three-day event inconvenienced their customers?
The Las Vegas track was the most exciting street circuit in the world
Freudenberg is convinced a Las Vegas street race can succeed. He's just not sure that downtown is the appropriate venue. Or that Champ Car is the right series. And with Jensen and Yonover out of the race-promoting business, he needs to find someone to bankroll the race.
Because of the costs associated with renting space downtown - specifically at the World Market Center, where the Vegas Grand Prix teams stored and worked on their race cars - Freudenberg has an alternate site lined up around the Thomas & Mack Center. He's also considering alternate racing series, including the IndyCar Series (open-wheel cars similar to Champ Car) or the American Le Mans Series (sports cars).
"We've got both (sites) developed and both ready to go and as soon as we can find a promoter that's willing to look at one or both of those options, we'll present them both and see where they want to go," Freudenberg said.
Daren Libonati, who runs the Thomas & Mack Center, said he believes a race around the facility would work for a number of reasons.
"We felt that based on the way we had the grandstands placed and the way the course was placed, that it would have just been a wonderful experience from the hospitality side as well as the visual because you could have been in any of these six or eight grandstands and seen so much of the track and so much of the excitement," he said.
"Nothing against downtown, but ... the way it was set up, you saw maybe 200 yards of the track or 400 yards of the track and that was it. I believe that the setup and the intrigue and the proximity to the Strip (of our layout) would have given a different experience for the fans."
The only drawback to that plan, Freudenberg said, is that the site is not in Las Vegas.
"It's dramatically less expensive down around the Thomas & Mack area but, unfortunately, that's not in the city so that takes away the support we would get from the city," Freudenberg said.
"The reason I really like downtown was because Mayor Goodman, (City Manager Douglas) Selby and all his folks made our lives so much easier because they wanted us to be there, they embraced us and they helped us every single day. When you get that kind of support, it's hard to say, 'We want to go somewhere else now.' I don't have any doubts that Daren and his group would do the same, but you don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth." Las Vegas Sun11/07/07 Steve Johnson said that Las Vegas officials are hoping that the race can be renewed sometime in the future. "While there is some disappointment, there is also understanding by everybody I spoke to, including members of the city council," he said. "As they said, they're going to do whatever they can to try to get us back there in the future, and they understood the challenges that we faced."