Overheard at Honda Indy Toronto – Saturday

UPDATE With regard to this report from Saturday and the chance that IndyCar might replace the NASCAR Nationwide series race in Montreal – INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard said he "wanted to make sure we're doing our events (in Canada) right" before investigating an IZOD IndyCar Series race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

Last week, Quebec's tourism ministry denied a request for $500,000 to assist organizers of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the circuit, potentially curtailing that event after its fifth running in August.

"We have two great events and great promoters (in Toronto and Edmonton) and let's make sure they continue to grow," he said. "I just want to make sure we're doing things right."

Firestone Indy Lights will be the headliner at the Grand Prix de Trois Rivières (between Montreal and Quebec City) in early August — the same weekend the IZOD IndyCar Series is at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

07/09/11 It was another beautiful day here in Toronto, Ontario Canada where the IndyCar series was gathered for qualifying on the streets around Exhibition Place….. Randy Bernard is going all-out to make the Las Vegas World Championship weekend a big event and a big success. Select MGM Resorts will serve as base locations for IndyCar's ancillary fan events that will complement the season finale, including a charity blackjack tournament, pit stop competition, a golf tournament, a parade of cars down the strip, and the annual Championship Banquet……Perhaps more importantly, MGM's Scott Voeller says that they really want to do an IndyCar street race at the southern end of the strip down where the Mandalay Bay resort is. He called it the Golden Goose that they are after. Recently The Strip has been closed down for a marathon foot race and so the precedent has been set for closing The Strip (which is a state road) and they are confident of getting approval. A street race in that part of The Strip will be less disruptive than one further north, but most importantly it will be a huge spectacle, especially if they decide to hold it at night under the lights. If anyone can pull it off, Randy Bernard can.

Changing topics, 26 to 27 drivers have asked for applications to participate in the $5 million IndyCar challenge for 5 'outside' drivers at the season finale in Las Vegas. So far 6 drivers have turned in applications, and Randy Bernard told AR1.com that the selection committee has selected one of them to-date. "We want the big ones, that's all I can say," he said. Look for an announcement on who it is in the near future. Former CART Champ Car star Alex Zanardi might be the first, driving with hand controls after he lost both legs in a devastating crash at the EuroSpeedway in Germany……As to who the other drivers are, Bernard would not say, but he did say not to look for it to be an F1 driver because they don't have the guts to race at 230 mph on an oval. They are scared. "IndyCar isn't for everyone," Bernard said. "It takes someone with a lot of guts to get behind the wheel and go 230 mph around an oval. I think this is what this challenge is supposed to do, to create talk and conversation about what makes (IndyCar) different."………Dario Franchitti will get extra testing as the Izod IndyCar Series churns toward a championship. In return, he'll coach the drivers participating in IndyCar's $5 million challenge to win the season-ending race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway…………..Randy Bernard told AR1.com that no decision has been made on the new TV partner after ABC's contract expires after 2012, but to look for an announcement in October. Recall our rumor yesterday that NBC wants the entire season of races, including the Indy 500.

Francois Dumontier

We spotted Octane Motorsports Boss Francois Dumontier roaming the pits here in Toronto and, as we rumored before, they are interested in taking over the Toronto IndyCar event because they feel that can restore the event to its previous glory. We hear that Dumontier had a meeting setup with Randy Bernard this weekend. Speculation immediately centered around Dumontier offering Randy Bernard that he would deliver a race in Montreal as well now that it looks like the NASCAR Nationwide race might be dropped after the government axed the $1 million it was giving to prop up the race. If it were to happen IndyCar would be back to the CART days – three race in Canada – Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal, although in the CART days it was Vancouver instead of Edmonton. Montreal can only hold two races per year on the Notre Dame Island in the St. Lawrence Seaway, so the Nationwide race would have to be dropped before IndyCar could return. We don’t know that Vancouver wants a race anymore. Montreal does though, and so does Quebec City. The Mayor of Quebec city has wanted a race forever, and he is very aggressive about it.

For a 2nd day in a row, Steve Horne was on the radio in the KV Racing pits, just listening, but it leads to speculation as to whether he will have a roll with the team in the future. Speaking of KV Racing, the cars and the equipment is really shining these days, to the same level as Team Penske. As stated yesterday, Tom Wurtz is now Team Manager and it appears he brought the 'Penske Clean' mentality over with him……….Had the chance to talk to Katherine Legge who is still trying to line up a ride for a couple of races this year leading up to a full-time ride in 2012. We hear she has been talking to Sam Schmidt for one……Spotted former RuSPORT team owner Dan Pettit eyeing up the Newman/Haas team. With Carl and Bernie Haas getting up there in age, there has to be younger partners that are brought in to continue the team. Time to do some succession planning……Al Larson, the PR Director for Andretti Autosport is leaving the team and has taken a position outside of racing…….We have it on good word that the rumored 2nd IndyCar race in Brazil on the beachfront in Porto Alegre is close to being finalized and will not run back-to-back with Sao Paulo in the spring, but instead will run later in the year, probably in September. Mark C. reporting from Toronto.

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