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coldrsx
11-18-2005, 10:59 AM
Grand Prix will stay here to 2010
Huge fan turnout prompts race promoters to extend contract

John Korobanik
The Edmonton Journal


Friday, November 18, 2005



CREDIT: Rick MacWilliam, The Journal
CITY OF CHAMP CARS: Champ Car driver Alex Tagliani, seventh here in July, says he and his fellow racers had a roaring good time in Edmonton.


CREDIT: Rick MacWilliam, The Journal, file
(See hard copy for photo description.)

EDMONTON - Fasten your seatbelts and hold on to those earplugs, Champ Car is going to be here for a long time.

The racing series that fell in love with this city last July has extended its original three-year agreement for another three years, guaranteeing the city's spot on the international car racing circuit through 2010.

In announcing the extension on Thursday, Champ Car president Steve Johnson said the Grand Prix of Edmonton race was the highlight of the season, adding that the city "is a place we're proud to call home ... you're not going to get us to leave."

Next year's event will run July 21-23 at the City Centre Airport, a week later than the inaugural edition. Tickets go on sale through TicketMaster at 10 a.m. today.

As an added bonus, the 2006 race will be televised live on CBS.

"We wanted to make sure people knew they had something they could be proud of, that they could take ownership in," said Grand Prix Edmonton president Greg Macdonald.

"Economically, this means huge dollars for the city, for the province, and there's nothing wrong with having it televised in 220 countries.

"With the extension comes the opportunity to make capital improvements at the event."

Tom Doerksen, Grand Prix director of operations, said a number of changes will be made to ensure the 2006 event is even more fan friendly.

Those will include:

- Moving the pit road and team area closer to the start-finish area.

- Moving the grandstand and corporate suites closer to the first turn.

- Angling the stands to improve visibility for fans.

- Adding another 3,600 seats at turns four, five and six.

Driver Alex Tagliani, who finished seventh here in July, was on hand Thursday for the announcement. The talk of improvements "seems a little bit picky, because it was already perfect," he said.

"Everybody talks about Edmonton all the time, the drivers, the owners, the sponsors."

The inaugural event attracted more than 200,000 fans over three days, including 78,080 on race Sunday. Drivers, owners and Champ Car officials were astonished by the success.

"It takes some places 10 years to get that," Johnson said of the attendance, the third-highest for a Champ Car event this season.

"It was the high point for the Champ Car series this year. Our momentum was growing, but after Edmonton it took off. I attribute that as the catalyst to all the good things that are happening in Champ Car.

"I see this as one of the anchors of the Champ Car series. This is going to become a destination for fans worldwide."

CBS approached Champ Car asking to add Edmonton to its live telecast schedule after seeing the turnout in July, Macdonald said. He said CBS was "absolutely shocked" to hear that about 60,000 people turned out on a Friday when there was no actual racing.

Macdonald said sponsorship interest in the event had already increased 10-fold prior to Thursday's announcement.

The 2006 event will again include a Formula Atlantic race but negotiations are still underway to secure a return of the TransAm series.

Next year's event will include three themed areas:

- Alberta Natural Resource Expo, to showcase the province's natural resources.

- Alberta Zone, to show off the province for visitors and families.

- Tuner Zone, with some of the hottest modified cars, an area for fans to test their skills in a pit stop and a remote

control racing venue.

[email protected]

The Edmonton Journal 2005

coldrsx
11-18-2005, 11:14 AM
HARDER THEY WORK, LUCKIER THEY GET

I am beginning to think these Grand Prix Edmonton fellas, who did a fantastic job bringing Champ Car racing to Edmonton, also have multiple horseshoes up their derrieres.

President Greg Macdonald and technical director Tom Doerksen held a razzle-dazzle press conference yesterday to preview the 2006 July 21 to 23 event.

Here's what was announced:

Champ Car, Edmonton Airports and the city have extended their agreements with Grand Prix Edmonton for another five years, until 2010.

This means way more can be done to the site with more planning certainty and multi-year contracts that can be waved in front of the noses of sponsors and advertisers.

American TV coverage of Grand Prix Edmonton goes from 2005's Speedvision channel to being shown live on the entire CBS network. And it's a multi-year TV deal.

Viewership will increase exponentially. Ads by sponsors will be seen by hundreds of millions of people, not just millions, which gives Edmonton unprecedented TV coverage.

In the first year of Grand Prix Edmonton, our boys Macdonald and Doerksen started from scratch and built the event in only six months.

They scrambled. They had an unproven event, yet still had to raise millions in sponsorships and corporate sales.

With this summer's success, the CBS Sunday TV slot and long-term security, corporate sponsors are pounding on their door. Overall 2006 sponsorship revenues could be 10 times higher than this year's.

Grand Prix Edmonton was grateful to have West Edmonton Mall as the title sponsor in 2005, at a reported $500,000.

West Edmonton Mall may yet be the title sponsor, if it's willing to pay the going rate.

Let's see ... $1.5 million, $2 million... $2.5 million?

- - -

IMPECCABLE TIMING

The horseshoes part of the equation lies in the timing of Grand Prix Edmonton in joining the Champ Car series.

Champ Car and car racing in general has been in recession for several years due to declining race team sponsorships.

In 2000, Champ Car had 27 to 28 cars racing on the circuit. By last year, it had dropped to 18 or 19.

Edmonton gained this race because Vancouver, with sponsorships diverted to the 2010 Olympics and environmental pressures, gave up its downtown Champ Car race.

Suddenly, things are turning around for Champ Car.

Edmonton's success brought on a host of inquiries and interest from other cities. The 2006 Champ Car circuit will grow to 15 races from 13, then to 17 by 2007.

Racing teams are finding those all-important sponsorship dollars. Every team from last year will be back, plus a few new ones. Most of 2005's top drivers will be back.

The sport and the Champ Car circuit is on the rebound.

And our Grand Prix has slipped in on the ground floor.

- - -

AT THE 2006 GRAND PRIX

- The bottleneck along the main Grand Prix walkway should be history. With the grandstands being shifted closer to the track, the walkway will be considerably wider.

- The drivers will, in 2006, get a much-needed two-week mid-season break between Toronto's Molson Indy and Grand Prix Edmonton.

The one criticism the racing teams had of this year's schedule - with Toronto one weekend, Edmonton the next - was the lack of time to truck the race vehicles across the continent and repair them from the crash-o-rama Toronto event.

- With this summer's North America-wide exposure, expect 10 times more out-of-province, out-of-country "motorhead" tourists to come to Edmonton for the Grand Prix. Ditto with the rubber-tire traffic. A major, temporary RV campground will be built by the race site for 2006.

- Ticket prices, going on sale as of today at Ticketmaster, will be slightly higher than last year, says Greg, if only to offset higher costs for labour, energy and steel.

- With the race weekend coinciding with Klondike Days, look for synergies and cross-promotion between the two community-minded events.

- With the long-term contract to 2010, expect better landscaping, more Jumbotrons, and better PA systems.

- - -

MEET MIKE FOREST

Already a star at the press conference, without formal introduction, was Edmonton race car driver Mike Forest.

If racing was hockey, Mike, 23, is going from Junior A (the West Coast F2 circuit with 140 horsepower engines) to play in the American Hockey League (the Champ Car's Atlantic Series, with 300 horsepower engines). His next logical step will be to the NHL of auto racing, the Champ Cars with their 750 horsepower engines.

The Atlantic Series is the warm-up race for the Champ Cars. Mike will be racing here on July 23.

When Mike was growing up, he had no idea his dad Ric Forest had been an accomplished race car driver himself.

"He never said a word about it," says Mike. "We never saw his trophies or his race suit until they showed up when we moved house. We watched races together but that was about it. Probably because he knew how expensive it was."

But racing was in Mike's blood, and in Ric's too.

At 16, as a student at Louis St. Laurent high school, Mike, Ric and Mike's sister Nicole built a mini-racing car from a kit.

Mike started racing.

"I supported him, but only on the condition that he finish university," says a very proud Ric. "Then he started winning. Then he started going faster, and he kept on winning.

"Once racing professionals began to tell me how good he was, then I started to believe."

For two years, Mike has commuted from Fresno, California, where his PR1 Motorsports racing team is based, to the U of A to finish his business degree.

His first season of F2 racing, he was second overall. This year, despite a teenage teammate who deliberately tried to run him off the road in a crucial race, he was first overall.

Good luck in the Atlantic series, Mike. May you repeat your F2 record.

And win in the hometown!

dj_honda
11-18-2005, 11:15 AM
Me and gpomp went down. It was an awesome time. I think Boost Infested and a few others went down as well. I will definitely be going again this next summer.

Nite_Rydah
11-19-2005, 05:14 AM
Great news, even though his announcement was inevitable. It's hard to believe next year's event will outshine the tremendous success of this year's, but it will. Early ticket sales are already very strong, I can't wait to go back! It was great to see how many Calgarian's came up last year for the big party, hope to see even more of you guys next year!

Rockski
11-19-2005, 05:16 AM
this year is gonna rock... i drive by the track all the time and cant wait to see it full of cars again

v8killah
11-23-2005, 01:59 PM
Ill be going again, if your a motorsports fan you have no reason not to go.