Local race drivers hope to save Canadian GP

LOSS OF GRAND PRIX DISASTROUS TO CANADIAN RACE CAR DRIVERS Driver and Team Sponsorship Income Dependent on Formula One Race In a last minute effort to have the Canadian Grand Prix reinstated onto next year's Formula One schedule, Canadian race...

LOSS OF GRAND PRIX DISASTROUS TO CANADIAN RACE CAR DRIVERS
Driver and Team Sponsorship Income Dependent on Formula One Race

In a last minute effort to have the Canadian Grand Prix reinstated onto next year's Formula One schedule, Canadian race car drivers and teams held a press conference today in downtown Montreal to explain to the public as well as to both the federal and provincial governments, how the loss of Montreal's Formula One race will spell immediate disaster to Canadian formula racing.

The group of racing professionals, all of whom are either active participants or former drivers in Canada's open-wheel auto racing ladder system, met the media at Karina's on Crescent Street to underline the need for an immediate increase in effort to save Montreal's Formula One stop.

"The loss of the Canadian Grand Prix is without a doubt the worst thing that can happen to Canadian formula racing and to Canadian race car drivers," said Eric Berman, General Manager of the Canadian Formula Ford Championship, a development series that spawned such racing notables as Paul Tracy, Alex Tagliani and the late Greg Moore.

"Young Canadian racers depend on being able to participate in support events at premium races like the Canadian Grand Prix to sell their sponsorship packages. The fact of the matter is, without this particular event, many of this country's brightest racing talents will be unable to secure adequate funding to race next year and into the future. The loss of the Canadian Grand Prix will devastate formula racing in Canada."

Drivers currently participating in Formula One have all cut their teeth in lower formula racing series. In Canada, once the transition is made from karting to cars, drivers usually participate in a regional 1200cc or 1600cc series before moving to the national Canadian Formula Ford Championship with its budget of between $75,000 and $100,000 Canadian per season.

"It's tough enough to get that much sponsorship with the Canadian Grand Prix," said former Canadian Formula Ford Champion and current race driving instructor, Jean- François Veilleux.

"Without this event, it's going to be ten times more difficult. Most drivers who were planning on racing in Formula Ford in 2004 have already sent their sponsorship packages out to Canadian companies who do their budgets for the following year in the summertime. A lot of their sponsorship requests focus on the fact that Montreal has been on the schedule for a very long time and is very likely to be on the 2004 schedule.

It's a little bit late to call up a company and say, 'oh by the way, we're not racing in Montreal next year but I still want you to give me the same amount of money.' There simply was not enough notice given to Canadian teams and drivers that the event would be pulled. It's too late to try to redo budgets in order to get one, two or three more sponsors for less money. That's a real stick in the wheels."

Today's press conference featured such racing notables as Richard Spénard, Bertrand Godin, Jean-Francois Veilleux, Didier Schraenen, Louis-Philippe Dumoulin and AIM Autosport principal, Ian Willis.

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About this article
Series Automotive , Formula 1
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Louis-Philippe Dumoulin , Didier Schraenen , Bertrand Godin , Greg Moore