Laguna Seca won’t return

Unlike Road America that has a reasonable chance of returning to the Champ Car calendar, Laguna Seca looks to be dead in the water, especially with San Jose now on the schedule. This The Reporter article says, "I'd love to see Champ Car racing in San Jose. It's a great cause," said Ed Nicholls, spokesman for Laguna-Seca. "Ideally, the San Jose race would be in the spring and our race would be in the fall. That way, they could complement each other and raise fan interest for both races." The schedule is far less than ideal for the Monterey permanent road course. Laguna-Seca had been holding its traditional date for the Champ Car World Series weekend, Sept. 9-11, waiting for a finalized schedule to be released from Indianapolis. Raceway officials were red with anger when they saw the schedule, which still has a couple of openings.

"We thought we had a date with Champ Car," Nicholls said, with an edge in his voice. "They didn't put us on their calendar and then they quit returning phone calls and e-mails. When pressed, they said they were still working with us, but they only put confirmed events on their schedule."

Champ Car, and its forerunner CART, had been the marquee event of the Grand Prix of Monterey for 25 years. The weekend is traditionally one of the highlights of the Laguna-Seca schedule. Champ Car officials didn't return messages left this week with their offices in Indianapolis.

Recent press releases from Champ Car and its support series, The Trans-Am Series, Toyota Atlantic and the Formula BMW Championships, say they are still in "serious negotiations" with venues, including Mazda Raceway Laguna-Seca, to fill the two remaining spots on the schedule. The confirmation of the San Jose Grand Prix raised questions about how much open-wheel racing Northern California would support in one season. The Indy Racing League is scheduled to visit Infineon Raceway for the first time Aug. 26-28, 2005. Two Champ Car races within miles of each other might have been a glut. Now, it seems Laguna-Seca could be left out in the cold. "There's not a whole lot of time left to fill that weekend," Nicholls said, sounding resigned to a season without Champ Car racing in Monterey.

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