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  • San Jose Grand Prix Will Not Be Run In '08 Due To Lack Of Funds

    The three-year-old Champ Car World Series San Jose Grand Prix (SJGP) will not return next year, as race organizers indicated that "future downtown construction would make the current race circuit unusable and an alternative route couldn't be found in the city," according to Barry Witt of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. A $4M taxpayer subsidy covered the second and third years of the event, and there was "no chance of landing additional city funds" to pay for an alternate course. Race supporters "bemoaned the loss of a high-profile event that drew tens of thousands downtown," while critics claim that the race was a "noisy production that disrupted businesses and created little financial benefit."  Champ Car announced yesterday a replacement race for next year at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey County.  Paid attendance this year was 81,538.  In '06, organizers announced attendance of 155,934, later "revising it to 'about 120,000,' of which 83,248 were paid admissions." SJGP President Dale Jantzen acknowledged that the event "had lost money every year but had hopes of eventually turning a profit." He said "about a dozen" race employees would be laid off.  Witt notes the race was owned by Sana Security CEO Don Listwin, who had attempted to "use the race to raise money for the Canary Foundation," a charity he founded to help early cancer-detection research. Events that were held "independent financially of the grand prix but held during the race weekend" helped raise about $3M over three years for the foundation (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/12).

    LOCAL REAX: In San Jose, Mark Purdy writes if Champ Car and Listwin "had wanted the [race] to continue, it would have." Listwin and the Canary Foundation "grew tired of losing tons of money over the past three years, even with city subsidy."  Champ Car has "never found a big-name sponsor" for the event, and this season the circuit canceled races in China and Phoenix "largely because there was a shortage of community or corporate support" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/12).  A MERCURY NEWS editorial states "events looking for subsidies have to prove their worth to taxpayers. ... Some events do pay their own way" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/12).

    LONELY BEACH: In Long Beach, Bob Keisser writes while the Long Beach Grand Prix (LBGP) "has a stronger constitution than others," Champ Car is "once again beset by problems and gaffes, operated by directors who seemingly can't read a map." The Las Vegas race, run by the same people who canceled the Phoenix race, "is in doubt for 2008," and Sebastian Bourdais, the Frenchman who has won six of 12 races this season, is headed to F1 next year, "taking away the circuit's most successful name." Grand Prix Association CEO Jim Michaelian said of the LBGP, "We can operate in a semi-autonomous vacuum."  But he added, "We want Champ Car to have a strong North American presence, and we want a schedule where there aren't so many bloody long periods without races. And we want American drivers and American teams that we can promote. We're in a renewal phase with ticket holders, and they ask these kind of questions" (Long Beach PRESS TELEGRAM, 9/12).

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