NASCAR back in Montreal next year but promoter seeks government funding

Octane Management president François Dumontier says that while his company has assumed financial responsibility for next year’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, he will continue to seek government funding.

“We never ended the discussion with the government from last summer, and now it’s a different group that will have the discussion," Dumontier said Wednesday. “When we announced that the event would be maintained, the levels of government welcomed it as a good thing.

“We signed the agreement (with NASCAR) to continue the race knowing we didn’t have any public funding," Dumontier added. “But the event is important for Montreal and Quebec, and for sure in the next few weeks I will have those discussions."

Octane Management has replaced U.S.-based International Speedway Corporation as official organizer of Montreal’s NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge, and the sixth edition of the Nationwide Series event will be held next Aug. 17-18.

ISC was the principal organizer for the past three years, but after last Augusts’ race informed NASCAR it no longer wanted to remain in its capacity here. The decision came after ISC officials failed to persuade Toursime-Québec to come up with at least $500,000 in public funds to support the event in the future, with a similar amount expected from the federal government.

Octane Management already is the promoter for Formula One’s Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and an IndyCar event in Edmonton. Dumontier said the decision to take on responsibility for the NAPA Auto Parts 200 was based on the enthusiasm for NASCAR among race fans in Quebec and across the country, as well as the history of the event, which was first held in 2007.

Octane recently signed a new one-year deal with NASCAR.

“I signed it knowing we didn’t have public (money) support, and it took a few weeks before we signed it," Dumontier said. “But I think, on both sides, we’re quite happy about the terms and conditions."

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s senior vice-president of racing operations, attended a news conference held at the track Wednesday and stressed “NASCAR was not willing to walk away" from Montreal.

“We are delighted to be back and are looking forward to working with François and the entire Octane Management team," O’Donnell said. “This event is the crown jewel for the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Our drivers look forward to coming here. We, as a sanctioning body, look forward to coming here. It’s a terrific event, great atmosphere, and the fans have been truly supportive.

“One of the things that was key for us to keep this event, and which sometimes gets lost a little bit, is that NASCAR is not just a one-event happening in Canada," O’Donnell added. “Our goal is to grow the sport. We’ve got the Canadian Tire Series in all of Canada, and up-and- coming drivers who we hope one day one of those drivers will compete in Sprint Cup and hopefully one will represent Canada as our champion.

“So, our goal is really use this event, showcase all of NASCAR all across of Canada. We know François and his team have done that for us and we’re looking forward to continuing that relationship." Montreal Gazette

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