Laguna Seca A1GP race in doubt

UPDATE #4 A1 Grand Prix organizers have restricted teams to only one “spec" Lola chassis in order to cope with a shortage of spare parts, but the move has not quelled rumors that the new series faces cash-flow problems.

The rumors began when a South African court ordered all 50 A1 GP chassis temporarily impounded at Durban Airport after the Jan. 29 race. The order came as a consequence of unpaid insurance premiums. An A1 GP statement, issued when the teams arrived in Indonesia for the Feb. 12 race at Sentul (see Scoreboard), outlined the process by which teams will decommission their second chassis but said nothing about the series’ financial situation. AutoWeek

02/08/06 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca still maintains that the A1GP race will come off as scheduled. We hear from another source that A1GP officials, who are renting the track, have reserved a large number of grandstand tickets, for free giveaways no doubt. There is no appeal for A1GP in the USA so to think Americans would buy a lot of tickets themselves for this event is pure folly. Sheikh Maktoum and his business partners have deep pockets and are throwing a lot of money at the series this first year in the hope of success in future years. However, once you give away free tickets in a market, that market is dead for any 'real' future ticket sales.

02/08/06 This rumor is being upgraded back to 'speculation' as we have received word that there is a chance the A1GP race at Laguna Seca may indeed be cancelled, possibly soon. We never could figure out how they expected to sell any tickets to this event when fans won't even support Champ Car and ALMS at this track.

01/01/06 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' with the announcement of the race by Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, though it still remains to be seen whether the race comes off as planned. When in doubt, follow the money……

12/28/05 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca website now lists the March 10-12 A1 Grand Prix race as "To be Confirmed" and the event has been moved to their track rental page. With the series bleeding cash profusely, and with no payment for this event from the track (i.e. it's a rental deal) the series will have to rely on ticket sales to pay for the millions of dollars it takes to fly the cars and teams over to the USA. Ticket receipts will be negligible so unless Sheikh Maktoum or his South African investors are willing to lose more money, we suspect this event, like the one they originally announced in San Antonio, Texas, will be a non-starter.

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