Monterrey race seeks night race, or become NASCAR race

UPDATE #3 Hearing that Gerald Forsythe, who owns 50% of the rights to the Monterrey race, may consider renting the track to NASCAR should the Champ Car night race never materialize. Rumors suggest that the government may step in to help save the Champ Car race, and one would expect them to pay to light the track if they are really serious about saving the race. Better promotion and better sponsor support would also help.

05/21/06 Was this the sixth and final Champ Car Grand Prix of Monterrey? Gerald Forsythe, who owns the race rights to the Mexican event run since 2001, seems to think so.

Forsythe said he thinks that Monterrey is "tired of" the race, which has suffered declining attendance for the last three years. An additional factor in this year's reduced crowd was a major national soccer match that began an hour after the Champ Car race ended.

Attendance at Monterrey peaked with an announced three-day total of 236,000 in 2002. Race organizer OCESA released a three-day crowd figure of 76,055 this year.

"My feeling is that we won't be back here," Forsythe said on Sunday morning. "It's a shame because the city and the venue have a lot to offer. The government did a nice job developing Fundidora Park for the community, and the racetrack is the centerpiece of the park. The Mexican fans are hugely into racing, but the sponsors down here are fickle and sponsorship drives everything."

Forsythe cited Tecate beer as a loyal sponsor and added he hoped a deal could be struck to continue the Monterrey race, perhaps as a night event to reduce the effects of the seasonal heat. Forsythe is also the race rights holder for Champ Car's Mexico City event that serves as the season finale; In the event of an open-wheel merger between Champ Car and the Indy Racing League within the next couple of years, Mexico City is likely to win the nod for the only race in the country.

"I will be extremely disappointed if we don't come back here to Monterrey, and I think the fans will be disappointed as well," Forsythe said.

05/21/06 The three-day event attendance for the Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans was 76,055, with today just over 48,000. This is down significantly from earlier years when this race was run in cooler weather. In a Champ Car/IRL merger scenario one has to wonder if this race will survive given they will have to drop some races.

05/21/06 sources in Mexico tell us that OCESA and Champ Car are in negotiations to continue the Monterrey race next season, but at night under the lights. Our sources tell us that the Nuevo Leon government (State) does not want to lose the race and they will support OCESA as much as they can moneywise to bring Champ Car back.

Why at Night? The temperature! They are really concerned for the fans (in the eleventh hour). The temperature not only affects the drivers, also the loyal fans. The deal does not depend on the merger. The date for the race will be again in May, but at night when it is cooler. In February or earlier OCESA is preoccupied with the NASCAR race in Mexico City. The month of May is perfect for the government and for the city of Monterrey.

If the Champ Car/IRL merger goes forward we are told that Tecate Brewery wants to sponsor Adrian Fernandez to run his final season in a farewell tour. The idea is that if the merger happens the brewery and several other companies will support and sponsor Fernandez to help him run his farewell season in front of the Mexican fans. We hear that many companies will jump in if the merger happens. Hector Serrano reporting from Mexico

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