IRL schedule delay rests with Montreal
9/11/2005 8:39:47 AM
The Indy Racing League is delaying release of its 2006 schedule in order to finalize plans to replace the annual Champ Car race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, according to a published report.
SpeedTV.com reports IRL officials have reached a handshake agreement with Montreal promoter Normand Legault to bring IRL racing to the city next year in conjunction with a NASCAR Busch Grand National or Craftsman Truck Series race.
It's no secret that Legault has been wooing NASCAR officials as they consider expanding the series into Canada.
However, Legault's contract with the city permits just two races a year. With Formula One a staple in Montreal, the likely candidate to get the axe is the Champ Car event.
Rumours of a rift between Legault and Champ Car officials surfaced during this year's race, which saw attendance down dramatically over previous years. Most of the grandstands had been removed in what organizers claim was an attempt to lure more fans to the race with lower priced tickets and to try and differentiate the Champ Car event from the F1 race.
Legault has reportedly told IRL officials that Champ Car may have breached its contract. Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven wouldn't comment on the report but sounded confident the IRL won't be in Montreal in 2006.
"It wouldn't surprise me if that happens in 2007 but we've got a contract with Montreal for 2006," Kalkhoven tells SpeedTV from Belgium where he's attending the F1 race.
"We've also got a backup plan if Montreal does go away."
The IRL has been interested in breaking into the Canadian market for the last few years and had reportedly been negotiating for a street race in Quebec City.
Two other venues are also expected to be absent from the IRL schedule next year. Phoenix, which has had miserable attendance the past few years, will be dropped while the high speed oval at Fontana is also off the calendar due to a scheduling conflict.
The IRL had been looking at moving its California race from the heat in July to a September date in connection with NASCAR. But the stock car series vetoed that plan.
More news of NASCAR in Montreal, will it happen for 2006? maybe, likely for 2007 though.