Series fights to keep Canadian GP venue

RACERS AND PROMOTERS REGROUP TO SAVE CANADA GP FOR 2004 As the promoter of the Canadian Formula Ford (F1600) Championship, we would like to explain the impact the cancellation of the Canadian Grand Prix will have on grassroots racing in Quebec...

RACERS AND PROMOTERS REGROUP TO SAVE CANADA GP FOR 2004

As the promoter of the Canadian Formula Ford (F1600) Championship, we would like to explain the impact the cancellation of the Canadian Grand Prix will have on grassroots racing in Quebec and Canada.

The Canadian Formula Ford Championship has been fortunate enough to appear at the Montreal Grand Prix for several years as a support series, typically running a race on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning during Grand Prix weekend on Île Notre-Dame. One of only two national professional racing series currently operating in this country (the other is CASCAR), the Canadian Formula Ford Championship is the premiere development series for aspiring young race car drivers in this country.

It remains the place where drivers can get a racing education and hone their skills at a reasonable cost. Since 1990, we have seen the likes of Paul Tracy, Alex Tagliani and the late Greg Moore graduate from the Canadian Formula Ford Series and move on to become racing superstars; drivers our country can be proud of; Canadian drivers that help fill grandstands in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

The success of the F1600 championship depends in large part on our ability, as series promoters, to raise corporate sponsorship money. This revenue goes towards appearance fees paid by the series to event promoters in order to participate in high profile race events in Canada, such as the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal and the Toronto Molson Indy.

A further key to success is to attract Canadian teams and drivers to enter the championship, and having high profile events on the calendar does exactly that. The drivers in turn find their own sponsorship money so that they can afford to do a season of racing. The biggest selling tool for any Canadian team or driver is the Montreal Grand Prix. It's clear that Canadian companies want to be involved in the Grand Prix, and many F1600 drivers can raise the money needed to compete for the entire season around selling sponsorship for the Montreal race alone.

Normand Legault and his team at GPF1 have been incredible supporters of entry-level professional racing. Indeed, Canadian F1600 drivers are very fortunate to be able to race in front of thousands of fans at le Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, and under the international spotlight that is Formula One.

Perhaps the event promoters realize that the health and welfare of major race events in Canada depend partly on the participa-tion of Canadian drivers in those races. As the first step on the pro racing ladder, our series nurtures those drivers with the talent and ambition to someday climb to the top levels of motor sport.

Racing is a very expensive sport to participate in. With no more Canadian Grand Prix, our young drivers will be significant-ly handicapped in their ability to find sponsorship. Sure, Canadian drivers can try their luck in professional racing series outside Canada, but costs quickly become exorbitant. Without budgets to go racing, drivers' careers will stall, series sponsorship money will disappear, as will professional open-wheel racing in this country.

If Canada's Grand Prix goes elsewhere, it will cut off the lifeline that has supported our local racecar drivers. In the past few years, we have seen a slow deterioration in the quality and size of the grids in just about every development racing series in North America. In the current economic climate, the racing industry and the millions of dollars it pumps into our economy along with the entertainment it delivers to millions TV viewers and live event audiences, will not be able to sustain the loss of this world class event.

A wonderful, contemporary Canadian racing heritage will be destroyed. We will unlikely ever see another Gilles Villeneuve, Jacques Villeneuve, Greg Moore, Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier or Alex Tagliani representing Canada on victory podiums around the world.

We, the Formula Ford series organizers and competitors, stand united behind your efforts to save the Canadian Grand Prix, and save racing in this country for our citizens, our race fans, our merchants, our tourists and our national pride.

Sincerely,

Eric Berman
General manager, Canadian Formula Ford Championship

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Series General
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Gilles Villeneuve , Greg Moore