Montreal a backup if Boston GP fails? (Update)

UPDATE Will IndyCar do a deal with Montreal to replace the Boston GP that was cancelled today? They should.

The crowd in Montreal for the 2002 CART race was massive, but after that Tony George's hammer on the sport was too much and the race attendance fell
The crowd in Montreal for the 2002 CART race was massive, but after that Tony George's hammer on the sport was too much and the race attendance fell

04/25/16 Norris McDonald of the Toronto Star writes: The Grand Prix Boston, which plans to run a Verizon IndyCar Series race through the streets of that city on Labor Day weekend, was gobsmacked yet again at the end of last week when an environmental problem popped up.

This is just the latest of many roadblocks that have gotten in the way of this race ever happening.

The details are too murky for me to delve into here but suffice it to say that the race organizers now have to get a wetlands permit because of new climate change rules that recently kicked in.

If they go through that process from start to finish, the amount of time it will take to get the permit won’t allow them to finish building the course on time, they say. About all they can do is appeal the municipal demand to the state level, which will probably be a waste of time because all you have to do these days to put the kibosh to just about anything is to say any or all of these three words: environment and climate change.

So rather than continue to bang their heads against a brick wall, I suggest they do what my friend John Bassett thinks they should do, and that’s to try to move the race to Montreal.

It’s critical that IndyCar not suffer another black eye by having to cancel a race, particularly one that’s scheduled for a high-profile venue like Boston.

So rather than canceling it, the event could be postponed and moved for this year to a city and a circuit that I’m sure would welcome it with open arms.

There can be two motor racing events promoted each year at Le Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on the Isle Notre-Dame in Montreal. One is always held in the spring and that’s the Formula One Grand Prix du Canada. Over the years, the second one has been a Champ Car race (the Indy cars raced there from 2002 to 2006) and a NASCAR Busch Series race (now Xfinity Series) from 2007 to 2012.

I always thought, starting in 2013, that either Normand Legault or Francois Dumontier (previous and present promoters of the F1 Canadian GP) would run a world championship Moto GP race there as the second promotion. But that never happened, which means there is a race date there for someone if they want it.

When Champ Car first went to Montreal in 2002, the crowd was massive but it tailed off year-after-year (after Tony George took his hammer to the sport) and was one of the reasons Legault opted to turn to NASCAR for 2007. But with no second race at the Villeneuve course for the past three years, coupled with Quebec’s well-known love affair with racing, it’s a pretty safe bet that a Labour Day weekend Indy car race would be a success.

A deal would have to be made with Dumontier, of course, and whether that would be possible is debatable. But as is always the case in any business relationship, if there is money to be made, a way forward can usually be found.

It could be a win-win. IndyCar would have a race on Labor Day weekend in a place where auto racing is welcome. The Boston promoters could give themselves a year of breathing room to do the proper due diligence and get everything buttoned down there (the whole Boston thing seems to have been rush-rush from the very start). The race fans of Montreal would have a world-class event to attend on the last long-weekend of summer and the Boston-Dumontier partnership could make money that they’re not making at the moment.

If I was IndyCar CEO Mark Miles, I’d try to make this happen. Norris McDonald/Toronto Star

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