IRL to race in Montreal and Toronto

UPDATE #2 See this Hot News item whereby Normand Legault confirms there will not be more than two races per year on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. 03/08/05 This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' Just another case of bad reporting by the Toronto Sun for not checking all the facts. checked with Champ Car owner Kevin Kalkhoven who said, "Only two races can be held there (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal) F1 and ourselves. That is by contract, and we have a long-term contract." Of course the IRL is free to race elsewhere in Montreal, just not on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. It should be noted that this same Toronto Sun journalist who wrote this story has written numerous articles in the past either predicting Champ Car's demise or their replacement by NASCAR or the IRL. Champ Car can choose to allow NASCAR to run their Busch Series with them in Montreal (see other rumor), but we doubt there is enough paddock space. People sure forget what Tony George says. In CART bankruptcy court he told everyone he had no interest in Montreal and a passing interest in Toronto. But then Tony has been known to say one thing and do the exact opposite… in point the IRL morphing into Champ Car. 03/08/05 The Indy Racing League is in discussions with the promoters of the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix to bring a race to Montreal as soon as next season, The Toronto Sun has learned. It would be the first race in Canada for the IRL but it also could be the precursor for others, including one in Toronto. Mecachrome, a multi-national engineering firm that has business interest in both F-1 and IRL, is part of a group working behind the scenes to push for a Montreal IRL race. Mecachrome, whose main business is in aerospace engineering, designed and built the engine block that won the season's first F-1 race in Australia for Renault.

Jean Paul Blais, the former chief operating officer of the Canadian Grand Prix and now a senior public relations executive who has Mecachrome as one of his clients, told The Sun in an interview at the Toyota Indy 300 in Miami that he believes the IRL would be successful racing at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, home of Canada's F-1 race. Blais was the right hand man for Montreal's F-1 rights holder Normand Legault before taking a job with Mecachrome.

"I think Montreal would be very accepting of an IRL race," Blais said. "Especially now with Patrick (Carpentier) racing in the series. He is hugely popular not only in Montreal but in all of Canada."

IRL executive vice-president Fred Nation confirmed that talks have been ongoing about bringing a race to Montreal. "The Indy Racing League has a strong interest in Canada," Nation said. "We would like to be competing in Montreal as well as some other cities, including Toronto."

Nation said Blais first approached him about racing at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve about half way through the 2004 IRL season. "I met Mr. Blais and we had some preliminary discussions about Montreal," Nation said. "Of course it all depends on the right business opportunity becoming available."

Legault, who rules the racing world in Montreal with an iron fist, has been actively seeking another race for the track that was built on Ile Notre Dame. Currently it is used just twice a year — once for the Grand Prix and again for the Montreal Molson Indy Champ Car race. Legault has also had discussions with NASCAR about bringing a Nextel Cup race there, but those talks have stalled because currently there is no room for a summer date on NASCAR's calendar. More….. [Editor's Note: What races is the IRL going to drop if they add two in Canada? Three if they get Long Beach. How many venues is Champ Car going to let the IRL rain on their parade? So far the IRL has had mediocre success each time, in most cases failing miserably. The fans have rejected the IRL product, but the IRL's goal is to morph into CART/Champ Car so they are trying to move into each and every one of their markets. So much for Tony George's original vision.]

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