Champ Car headed to South Africa?

UPDATE #5 We are hearing that the target date for a Champ Car race in Cape Town is the end of April, 2007. From sources in South Africa today we learned that a firm called Cape Town Grand Prix Company has a promoter agreement in-hand from Champ Car as well as Cape Town City Government approval for a street race. A partner of the Cape Town Grand Prix Co. is currently in Cape Town seeking sponsorship and of course Cape Town Grand Prix Company itself is currently seeking sponsorship. Getting all the funding in place remains the real holdup.

Meanwhile, this rumor about Bernie Ecclestone bringing F1 to Cape Town remains out there, though 10 times more money must be found for an F1 race than a Champ Car race.

Recall also this rumor that Bernie can't use the name 'South' African GP for his F1 race because the group trying to do the Champ Car race has bought that name, hence why the F1 folks are now calling their race the African Grand Prix. They didn't mention the fact that they can't get the South African GP name, so instead they use some lame excuse why they want to call the F1 race by the name of the Continent instead of the country, which is the norm.

Needless to say there is some real maneuvering going on the South Africa as to who will get the race. With the full F1 schedule, we simply can't see how Bernie could add a South Africa event given he's angling for races in so many other places. We suspect he's doing it to try and head off any worldwide advance by Champ Car. From Day 1 Bernie was very worried about Champ Car's ability to race outside the USA – recall how he used to badmouth CART every week and even got the FIA to ban CART from road racing outside of North America. While he hasn't been so vocal lately, he appears to be working behind the scenes to head off every Champ Car move. For example, as soon as Champ Car announced a race in South Korea, so did Bernie. South Africa – ditto. The rumored Manchester, England Champ Car street race mysteriously went away. When Ecclestone started to talk about a street race in London all talk of Manchester fell silent. Mark C.

08/05/05 As we understand it, the F1 race in Cape Town may be someone's pipe dream. Who is going to put up the money to build Bernie Ecclestone a brand spanking new F1 road course in time for their rumored 2009 race? We hear the government does not have the money to do it. With that said, Champ Car is much better positioned to land a race in Cape Town because the upfront costs of a street race are far less than a new road course that Bernie wants. Champ Car's sanctioning fee is far less than Bernie, and with Bernie no promoter makes any money, Bernie gets it all. An F1 promoter is lucky to break even.

The question really is whether Champ Car wants to go to South Africa. If they do we suspect a deal will be struck. If not, F1 might have a chance, but we suspect this is just another example of Bernie Ecclestone making it look like he has a plethora of new races waiting in the wings so he can bid one venue against another to extract maximum profit, when in fact he has no more room in the F1 schedule to add anymore races. Getting to South Africa is a long and expensive trip. The city is going to have to want this race bad enough.

07/30/05 This race is still on the table but still not sure it will materialize. The only comment we could get out of Champ Car was "you never know." We were assured by Champ Car that the '06 schedule will be released in Denver and it will contain 16, perhaps as many as 17 races. 06/03/05 Word here in Milwaukee is that the race in South Africa is iffy. Champ Car is not sure if Cape Town is really their target market. However, with that said, the government appears very interested. 05/27/05 This rumor is upgraded to 'near-fact' today. In another exclusive, our sources in South Africa have learned that officials in the city of Cape Town, South Africa today signed a multi-year deal with a firm representing Champ Car (Media Wide Marketing we believe) to host a downtown waterfront Champ Car race as early as 2006, perhaps 2007. We hear an April or May date is being discussed but it is not a foregone conclusion that Champ Car has agreed to place the race on its 2006 calendar as of yet or that South Africa is a target market for Champ Car. We hope to have more details in the near future.

Cape Town is known as the Mother City of Africa, and the Western Cape, an area which is regarded as one of the most beautiful regions in the world. The City is a rare cultural gem, resulting from the amalgamation of Indonesian, French, Dutch, British and German settlers, the local Bushman and Hottentot tribes and the Bantu tribes from the north.

The impressive presence of Table Mountain, flanked by the legendary Devil's Peak and historical Signal Hill, stands proudly above the city. Beautiful white sandy beaches along a peaceful coastline frame the Cape Peninsula, which is famed for its unique floral kingdom, bountiful rivers, vleis and dams and magnificent countryside. The surrounding area extends far into the winelands, green in summer and red-gold in autumn.

05/13/05 Our sources tell us that a major city in a major overseas country has given preliminary approval to hold a Champ Car race in a beautiful downtown waterfront setting. We are embargoed from releasing the information until all the deals are signed but it is clear that Champ Car is on its way to becoming the 'other' Formula One Series and a true World Championship, without all the politics and without the high costs. We hear a major beer company will sponsor the event if it happens.

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