The significance of St. Pete

A reader writes, I live here in St. Petersburg, and have yet to encounter anyone – either in person or in print who actually PAID for a ticket. So many free tickets were available from various sources that you would have to be a complete dolt to have paid money for a ticket. The race was very heavily promoted in this area. The promoter/race winner Andretti-Green must have spent a fortune on promotion. It is unimaginable that this was a profitable venture. Wonder how much of Tony's Family's money was poured into this one? Odd, that the commentators never once mentioned that the race winner Dan Wheldon lives 3 miles from the start finish line. I would have thought that would be a point of some interest. NASCAR announcers never tire of telling us Jeff Gordon is from Indiana or California (depending on whether they are racing at Indy or Fontana). Bob Lauer, St. Petersburg Dear Bob, It was important for the IRL to look good in St. Petersburg, and if they had to give away free tickets to fill the stands to do it, they can.

Strategically they wanted to show Dover Motorsports that they can run a successful street race because Dover has 60 days after this year's Long Beach race to inform the city what race series they will be going with in 2006 and beyond. Dover's contract with Long Beach runs through 2010 and ultimately it is their decision whether to stick with Champ Car or switch to the IRL. The city doesn't have much say in the matter except geographically where in the city the race is run and that it must be a street race series. That's why it was so important for the IRL to get this race in before the Long Beach decision and why Champ Car made a strategic error in letting the IRL get St. Petersburg. They may have handed the keys to Long Beach to the IRL on a silver platter.

Dover is a public company and they are obligated to make a return for their shareholders. Hence it would not be surprising to see Dover auction off the event to the highest bidder for 2006 though 2010 (5 years). They are in bed with the oval track cartel and may just find this as a way to get out of the street racing business altogether. How successful this year's Champ Car race is in Long Beach could have an influence on Dover's decision. Mark C.

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