Auto Racing

IndyCar race in Edmonton over as promoter pulls out

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The Canadian Press
9/21/2012 6:31:06 PM
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EDMONTON -- The Edmonton IndyCar race is history.

The city announced Friday that the promoter of the event, Octane Motorsports of Montreal, has told city officials it will not produce the race in July 2013 as planned.

"Despite our tight management policies and all our efforts to offer to the fans a world-class spectacle, we were not able to make this event profitable and nothing allows us to hope for a better profitability next year," Octane stated in a news release.

"This year's attendance was good, but we were also convinced that the event, especially with the quality of the spectacle offered, should have attracted many more spectators over its three days."

Octane said to survive the event needed a promise of more spectators and more support from local businesses, and that they weren't confident that would happen.

IndyCar and the race promoters don't release attendance figures.

The city says it will not search for a replacement promoter, meaning the eight-year run for the event in the Alberta capital is over.

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said in a statement that the open-wheel series had already left Edmonton off the unreleased 2013 schedule.

"More importantly this has not affected our plans for a minimum of 19 races next season, and we remain optimistic that we will return to having two races in Canada as early as 2014," said Bernard.

Edmonton and Toronto have been the only Canadian stops on the IndyCar schedule recently.

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel said the decision was regrettable.

"This news is disappointing for the city and race fans," said Mandel.

"The 2012 Edmonton Indy was a great event both on and off the track. It, like previous races, brought economic benefits and international exposure to Edmonton."

The series began in Edmonton in 2005 under the Champ Car Series banner and then three years later under the IndyCar series when the two circuits merged.

The race has been controversial from the start, with taxpayers saying the exposure and spinoff benefits don't justify the millions of dollars spent to promote the July event.

It's a race that died once before, in 2010 when the city and Octane could not agree on who should pay for a $3-million retrofit on the street-road course at the downtown City Centre Airport.

The two sides ironed out the issue and IndyCar agreed to put the race back on the schedule. But the financial problems continued. For the last two races, the event didn't have a title sponsor, which is considered the anchor for a successful corporate advertising presence.

The events brought international racing names like Danica Patrick, Dario Franchitti, Toronto's Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, Que.

The 2.2-mile, 13-turn race course was a favourite of drivers for its long straightaways and wide corners considered good for passing.

It also had its share of drama and excitement.

In 2009 Tony Kannan burned his hands when a pitstop went off the rails. Ethanol spilled into the cockpit and ignited, forcing him to scramble out of his harness and dash to safety.

A year later, Helio Castroneves took the checkered flag only to be disqualified for blocking driver Will Power two laps earlier.

An enraged Castroneves tried to get at race officials in the control tower and had to be restrained by security. Photos of the angry Brazilian were flashed around the world.

Castroneves got revenge this July when he won his first, and now last, Edmonton Indy.

Helio Castroneves (Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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