NASCAR oval to be built in Canada by ’08

With NASCAR officials talking about expanding into Canada, a group of Canadian investors and developers is looking to build a race track on what is now a Fort Erie golf course in Ontario, Canada.

"We've been working at this for about 15 months," James Thibert, general manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development & Tourism Corp., said this week.

A group of investors has an option on an almost 1,000-acre site that includes the International Country Club in Stevensville, Thibert said. The proposed seven-eighths of a mile track would have seating for as many as 65,000 spectators.

"It's perfect because it's very close to the [Queen Elizabeth Way]. It's got entrance ramps to it [at Netherby Road]," Thibert said. "Not a lot of residential development around."

NASCAR ventured across the border earlier this year for a Busch Series race in Mexico City.

"I'd love to see us in Canada," driver Jeff Gordon later was quoted in an Associated Press report. "Staying in North America is extremely important. Canada seems like the next natural place."

Last year, NASCAR and TSN, a division of Bell Globalmedia, formed NASCAR Canada. A news release from TSN, which has been broadcasting NASCAR since the network was established more than 20 years ago, says NASCAR is the top-rated motor sport on Canadian television.

Completion is projected for late 2008. "It's not that far away," Thibert said.

"We have to finalize the development of the team that puts this all together," he said. The bureaucratic process will follow designation of the principal developer.

But Thibert said he is confident the proposal will work, saying the question isn't "if" but how quickly. Buffalo News

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