Champ Car eyes Middle East too

UPDATE #4 Out of nowhere we heard whispers of a possible Middle East race again today. If our source is to believed, Kevin Kalkhoven has made a number of trips to the Middle East and something appears to be brewing. Of course in recent days we saw reports of a big development project around the Dubai circuit so apparently they have some big plans for that facility, but no big race. Ditto for Qatar. We would not expect anything, if it were to happen, before 2007. A1 Grand Prix would be a perfect support race for the Champ Car race. The new lighter 2007 Champ Car with some 250 more HP would be a perfect step up from A1GP, and by then who knows, maybe one of the A1GP Middle East drivers will be ready for Champ Car. We could easily see the Team Australia concept duplicated in the Middle East with a Team Dubai Champ Car team and feeder A1GP team. The Sheik certainly can afford it. Mark C.

11/22/04 A reader writes, Well all I can say is yeah!!! Just what Champ Car needs another boring street parade in front of 100,000 people there for the event and not the series! Sorry! Champ Car needs to get into Road Atlanta, and other Natural Terrain courses and maybe Gateway or something of an oval like that. Enough of the city concrete canyons! I'm tired of them and it's all they seem to be adding! San Jose looks about as Mickey Mouse a track as can be. Let these guys run these cars to their (the drivers) limits sometime! It's time for near 900hp cars that can be too hard to drive on real courses! Bryan Freeze Dear Brian, The new Champ Car owners want to ensure the long-term viability of the series by making it profitable. The street races tend to be more profitable. Until such time as Champ Car is rebuilt into the popular series that it once was and adds more big name drivers that will draw fans to remote tracks like Road America and Laguna Seca, it will pretty much be confined to street circuits. Sad but true because clearly the best race of 2004 was Road America where the Champ Cars are able to stretch their legs. Champ Car had better be sure the street circuits they lay out are racy, like Adelaide Australia was/is. To race on a Mickey Mouse track just because a promoter is willing to pay big money may be shortsighted in that they make a profit now but lose fans for the future, fans who have no interest in watching a parade interrupted by endless full course cautions, a Champ Car trademark. Mark C.

11/22/04 We are hearing that the rumored Middle East Champ Car race would probably be on the streets of Doha, Qatar, if it happens at all. Doha is the capital of Qatar and it sits on the Arabian Sea. We hear that Qatar is a bit jealous of its neighbors, Bahrain, which has an F1 race, and Dubai, which has the A1 Grand Prix. An early May date is possible.

10/26/04 This AutoWeek article says, Champ Car will release its 2005 race schedule Oct. 29, according to series officials. The series expects to have its new television package nailed down by that date, too. Champ Car honchos are quiet about the pending TV deal. What’s known is CBS will broadcast at least six races. Cable partners for the balance of the schedule haven’t been settled. They could include a CBS/Viacom cable affiliate like USA or Spike, or former cable partner Speed. Nor has the series given up on a race next season in Bahrain. Key officials plan to travel west from the race in Surfers Paradise, Australia, to the Middle East. [Editor's Note: Bahrain, another F1 track? Hmm…. We would have thought Dubai or Qatar, both of whom have opened FIA-standard F1 tracks. However, in recent days we have heard a number of rumors about Champ Car racing at F1 venues. Interesting to say the least]

08/12/04 Recall our previous rumor on the Renault V6 series that said Paul Gentilozzi will visit the new F1-track in Dubai in October. According to this AutoWeek article, Champ Car is emphasizing the "world" in World Series. Among other new venues for 2005, the three most likely are the long-rumored street race in Manchester, England; Buenos Aires, Argentina (South America remains a prime target of the new regime) and a site in the Middle East. St. Petersburg, Florida, remains on the table (as it does for the Indy Racing League). The venerable road course in Portland? "Sixty-forty," according to one series official. [Editor's Note: If they add 3 overseas races, there will be no room on the schedule for Portland or St. Pete.]

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