A doubleheader planned for Montreal?

UPDATE #6 [Alan] Labrosse hopes the future includes Champ Car in Montreal. It's something he'll discuss with [Normand] Legault, who on June 23 was awarded a five-year lease by the city that gives him exclusive racing use of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Shortly after the June 25 Formula One Grand Prix, Labrosse and Legault spoke by phone and a deal has been arranged to provide Labrosse with some of Legault's equipment for the staging of the Champ Car race.

The two promoters are soon expected to sit down, no door apparently closed on any racing scenario.

While there's no date circled on any calendar, Labrosse says that early September will pretty much be the deadline to have a 2007 Montreal date included on Champ Car's schedule.

Without specifics, he says that ticket sales are moving for next month, having enjoyed a recent spurt. The weekend event drew 93,000 spectators last August, a four-year low.

"Without meeting Normand I won't speculate (on Champ Car's Montreal life beyond this year)," said Labrosse, who beats the drum of publicity tomorrow with an Old Montreal news conference featuring Champ Car driver Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond, whom he represents.

"I'm going in totally open-minded to see what's possible." More at the Montreal Gazette

07/08/06 AutoRacing1.com spoke to Labrosse about this report in Toronto Friday. He said, "It means that I will be able to use some of the equipment that Legault uses and not have to bring in my own. That is the same arrangement we had in 2004."

As for his relationship with Legault and the prospects of doing business with him. "Our relationship is fine. We are both in the same business and there are no hard feelings that he won the contract for the 2nd race in Montreal. It's just business. I have yet to speak to Legault about possibly teaming up Champ Car and NASCAR in Montreal. We will have that conversation, and I don't really know how receptive he will be to the idea."

07/07/06 According to a report in today's Journal de Montreal, the mayor of Montreal insisted that Normand Legault deal with Champ Car promoter Alan Labrosse for this year's race and they are. There is a slight glimmer of hope that the two can work out a deal for 2007 that will see a Champ Car and NASCAR Busch Series doubleheader in 2007. We shall see……

06/26/06 In racing, a white flag signifies the final lap; on the battlefield, it means surrender. Montreal Champ Car Grand Prix promoter Alan Labrosse is waving neither, hoping instead that the green flag will fly beyond this August's fifth annual race, keeping his event alive.

On Friday, Mayor Gerald Tremblay renewed Montreal's lease for exclusive use of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve by veteran Formula One Grand Prix promoter Normand Legault, a vocal, energetic champion of the city and its place on the world stage.

The contract runs from 2007 through 2011, with a five-year option through 2016.

With his new lease, Legault has been awarded the sole right to organize races on the Expo 67 island. He can run no more than two race weekends per year in municipally owned Jean Drapeau Park, a favorite summertime oasis for Montrealers.

Labrosse, who this August will promote the Champ Car race, is on ice thinner than what's at home beneath a former Canadians goalie since he allegedly loved Paris in the springtime.

And if Labrosse can't soon work a deal with Legault and Tremblay, with 2007 race schedules on the drawing board, then enjoy Champ Car on Aug. 27, because it won't be back.

"If it's the Busch Series, and it might be, does its presence definitely eliminate the presence of Champ Car? I don't think so. If we're limited to two race weekends, then how can we maximize those weekends?"

The hottest potato handled by Tremblay and his team through the lengthy review of the lease, which essentially has simply been renewed, was the so-called exclusivity clause.

Legault says that F1 head Bernie Ecclestone insisted that Legault have total control of the circuit in order for F1 to guarantee Montreal its annual race.

Both Labrosse and Kalkhoven, an Australian who made his billion in fiber optics, dispute that.

Exclusivity was a non-negotiable point with Legault, Labrosse said, "because that's what (Legault) wants. Bernie Ecclestone has no issues with Champ Car."

Kalkhoven sent a five-page letter to the mayor on June 16, outlining the benefits of a Champ Car race to Montreal. He spelled out how, according to his sources, two F1 promoters stage other races on their tracks without the demand of F1 exclusivity.

Kalkhoven also said that Champ Car would be willing to adapt its schedule to protect F1's "priority status" in this city, in the event that Ecclestone changed his Montreal date. Full Story at Montreal Gazette

06/25/06 Alan Labrosse, manager of Champ Car driver Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond and promoter of the race itself, hopes to soon have discussions with Tremblay and Legault. Labrosse wants to pitch the idea of staging his event as at least a companion race to NASCAR, whose Busch dates usually run on Saturdays, if not sell the mayor on the economic benefit of making Champ Car the second event behind F1 on the island’s racing calendar.

After lengthy negotiations, yet to the surprise of no one, Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay and longtime Formula One race promoter Normand Legault have agreed to lease terms, giving Legault the exclusive right to organize two race weekends per year on ÃŽle Notre Dame’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The lease, announced by the mayor at a city hall press conference on Friday, runs from 2007-2011, with an option of renewal through 2016.Legault will pay the city $356,000 for the 2007 rights, and assume responsibility for the upkeep for the 4.361-km permanent road course track, which is expected to cost him an additional $1.5 million over five years.

Legault might try to twin an Indy Racing League date with a Busch Series event. In that case, he might one day wind up with Champ Car drivers back on “his" track, should that body and the IRL finally come back together after a 10-year split. For now, where Champ Car fits in Legault’s plans is anyone’s guess, but he might not cross the street to help them. He and Labrosse aren’t speaking, and Legault was roundly criticized by influential Champ Car voices when the three-day event last year drew just 93,000 fans, less than one day’s F1 gate. He also was accused by some of sabotaging the weekend to smooth the road for NASCAR. Montreal Gazette

06/25/06 In a rumor first broke by AutoRacing1.com back in May, comes word that IRL officials will be in Montreal today for an international safety meeting, but they expect to discuss staging a race on the Formula One circuit next season. Indy Star

05/29/06 One rumor we heard in Indianapolis but did not have time to substantiate, is that Montreal might be an IRL/Champ Car/NASCAR doubleheader in 2007. We hear that if Champ Car and the IRL merge, we could see the Indy Cars be the featured race on Sunday with a NASCAR Busch race on Saturday. Besides the Indy 500, the Champ Car teams could use the IRL equipment (see other rumor) in Montreal in 2007 so the IRL and Champ Car teams could be the featured Sunday event.

Going against this rumor, however, is the bad blood being created between Champ Car and NASCAR over the Phoenix street race. Champ Car is teamed with Alan Labrosse in Montreal for 2007 and their relationship with Normand Legault is strained over last year's Montreal fiasco as well. Legault is very politically connected in Montreal and we hear the City owes him on some favors he has done for them, so he is likely to get the August contract back in 2007 we hear, and we hear he likes this doubleheader idea.

In fact we heard Grand-Am could even be brought in for a tripleheader, but we doubt there is enough room on the island for that many cars. However, business is business, and if this is what it takes to resurrect the Montreal weekend in August, it (doubleheader or tripleheader) could be done. Mark C.

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