Live from Phoenix – race approved

UPDATE #3 Downtown Phoenix is getting back on the racing circuit.

The Phoenix City Council said "yes" late Tuesday to a request by Grand Prix Arizona Festival organizers Dale Jensen and Brad Yonover to hold Champ Car street races in the southeastern portion of the downtown beginning in November 2007.

Race promoters initially floated the idea in May proposing the race as an anchor for a three-day festival in downtown Phoenix. Controversy swirled around the plan from the beginning, with forces at Phoenix International Raceway heading the opposition. The main objection was proximity of the proposed Champ Car race dates to PIR's NASCAR events.

The council gave the green light to the race in a seven-to-two vote following a two-hour session that included a staff report recommending approval of the proposal, subject to certain conditions related to costs, noise and other considerations. Dissenting votes on the five-year agreement came from Peggy Bilsten and Tom Simplot.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio also vocalized his opposition to the race threatening to park a tank in the middle of the track.

Yonover said he was "cautiously optimistic" going into Tuesday's meeting after coming to terms on race dates with PIR. Race dates are Nov. 30 and Dec. 1-2 for 2007 and Nov. 21-23 for 2008.

The next step, Yonover, said is to negotiate a final agreement with the city spelling out details. He said he didn't expect any of the remaining concerns to jeopardize the deal. Grand Prix Arizona is footing 100 percent of the costs, he added.

Yonover said he expects the 2007 race and related activities to draw at least 150,000 spectators — including about 40 to 50 percent from out of town. In addition to the Champ Car race, the festival will include supporting races and exhibitions, such as celebrity and drifting competitions, as well as food and informational exhibits. Phoenix Business Journal

09/26/06 It took 2.5 hours of debate but the Phoenix Champ Car street race is now official. Phoenix International Raceway's Bryan Sperber didn't look too happy afterwards. Champ Car race promoter Dale Jensen just had too much power in Phoenix, even for NASCAR and the France family, who are not used to getting beat by that pesky Champ Car, which is like the Energizer Bunny that keeps running, and running, and running. The City of Phoenix did not want to let this opportunity go.

09/26/06 The Phoenix race has just been approved by the City Council. More later….

09/26/06 Support at the Phoenix City Council meeting looks very favorable for the Champ Car race to get approved this afternoon. There is a big turnout of people. The vote will come soon. Stay tuned….

Leave a Reply