Chicago area racetrack update 96-12-09

The DuPage Airport Authority Board of Commissioners met on Monday, 9-Dec, to review proposals for a racetrack on its property in west suburban Chicago near the DuPage-Kane County line. Because of new information received, the Board of ...

The DuPage Airport Authority Board of Commissioners met on Monday, 9-Dec, to review proposals for a racetrack on its property in west suburban Chicago near the DuPage-Kane County line. Because of new information received, the Board of Commissioners postponed a decision until they've had a chance to review the material.

Each of the three groups responding to the Request for Qualifications -- Tag Sport Ltd., The Motorsports Alliance, and DuPage Speedway and Entertainment Complex -- were given the opportunity to speak to the commissioners for about 10 minutes.

Tag Sport proposes building a road course that they state would support Formula 1 racing, Indy-car racing, and NASCAR racing. They emphasized their integrated park/commercial/race facility and that it would be friendly to both the community and the environment. William R. Kautz, the principal in this group, stated that the facility could be used 365 days of the year rather than one or two weekends of the year. Tag Sport is proposing four events at the facility -- a Formula 1 motorcycle race, a vintage motorcycle race, a Global GT race, and Formula 1 grand prix race. When questioned, Mr. Kautz stated that discussions were taking place with the grand prix sanctioning body. He also stated that within the next 30 days his group would have their financial backing lined up.

The Motorsports Alliance, a consortium of International Speedway Corporation, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Menard, Inc. proposes a 1.5 mile oval track with an initial seating capacity of 80,000 and 20-30 corporate suites. The Alliance emphasized their financial strength and their ability to build and operate motor- sports racing facilities. They also pointed out that with much interest being expressed for a racetrack in the Chicago area, there is an urgency to move forward. The Alliance felt that the due diligence period could be reduced from 12 to 18 months down to 8 to 12 months and if everything fell into place favorably, it would be possible to have a race in 1998. They were prepared to make a financial commitment at the meeting if they were selected to proceed.

The DuPage Speedway and Entertainment Complex, which includes the FRG Group, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, and Gesner Sports Ventures, proposes to build a 1.5 mile oval with an infield road course. They have found JAM Productions as an additional partner in their venture and emphasized the amphitheater part of their plan. Additionally, they stated they had a letter from Andrew Craig of Championship Auto Racing Teams stating that the facility would be awarded a CART-sanctioned race. Chip Ganassi stated that he was committed to moving his racing operation to the DuPage facility should his group be chosen to proceed.

Both Tag Sport and the DuPage Speedway and Entertainment Complex provided additional information at the meeting. In addition, the Airport Authority operating and engineering groups had developed information which the commissioners had not yet had time to review. None of commissioners were inclined to select a group to move forward with. They stated that they needed more time to review the additional information they've received. They are looking to meet again prior to year end. In addition, they asked each of the groups submitting proposals to speak to noise and traffic abatement.

The Airport Authority initially stated that they were asking potential development groups to submit their qualifications -- both financial and operational -- to build and operate a racetrack. It appears that the commissioners are drifting from that original approach and are delving more into the facility design.

-- Phil _____________________________________________________________ Philip Gravel Lisle, Illinois pgravel@mcs.net

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Series General
Drivers Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing