Mid Ohio and the EuroSpeedway Lausitz are the only two 2003 Champ Car World Series venues to be left off the struggling series' first incarnation of what will form the 2004 schedule although the status of Brands Hatch, Fontana and several other venues is still seemingly up in the air.

Following the cancellation of the 2003 King Taco 500 at the two-mile California Speedway and the resulting legal action aimed at CART by the circuit Fontana owners (ISC), series bosses have been forced to keep several dates as TBA until the issues with International Speedway Corporation are resolved.

The uncertainty surrounding the ownership of Brands Hatch and the fact that CART cannot afford another expensive European swing means no UK date is on the calendar and with the absence of the EuroSpeedway in Germany, the Kent circuit's place on the schedule looks increasingly tenuous.

After announcing that the final number of events in 2004 would be between 16 and 18, only 13 events are currently set in stone with a 14th, Portland, still subject to commercial terms (see sponsorship) and three others, Mexico City, Miami and a new, potentially highly lucrative street circuit event in Seoul, South Korea, waiting for issues with Fontana to be finalized before having their dates confirmed.

Should the final schedule come out with 18 events, it appears Fontana and Britain will be fighting for the final spot as Rockingham Motor Speedway still hopes to attract Champ Cars back for a third stab at their 1.5-mile quad-oval. There was no mention of the projected trip to Estoril in Portugal.

St Petersburg will host the season opener for the second year in succession on February 22nd although there is a gaping hole in the schedule until the second event on April 21st in Long Beach. CART will likely fill the gap with some of the yet to be confirmed events, with Miami a potential surprise candidate to move from its current September date to March for both logistical reasons and a true 'Sunshine State' start to the year. How the Florida roads commission would feel about this is another matter.

The third confirmed event thus far is the series' first trip to Las Vegas since 1984, although whether this will be on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval or a un-yet constructed street circuit has still to be confirmed.

The vastly popular Monterrey event in Mexico has been moved back to May 23rd while the series will also run a pair of night races for the second consecutive year, battling under the lights at the venerable Milwaukee Mile on June 5th and again at Cleveland's exciting Burke Lakefront Airport course on the Fourth of July weekend. In between those two dates is the traditional, but currently provisional, trip to the picturesque Portland International Raceway.

CART will make its regular three visits to Canada, holding street races in Toronto on July 11th, Vancouver two weeks later and at Montreal's challenging Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in its current slot at the end of August.

The summer stretch is missing the popular 2.258-mile Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, which has hosted an event every year since 1983 although road racing fans have been appeased by the confirmation of Road America on August 8th following a year full of uncertainty.

The diversity of Champ is shown no more clearly than at Road America, from where the teams will pack their bags from the awesome four-mile road course and head west to the tight streets of Denver for an earlier August 15th date.

Next year's race at the historic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California will return to its previously successful date in September, where it had run 13 of its 21 Champ Car events while Surfers Paradise currently has the final date on the calendar, some six weeks after Laguna Seca on October 24th.

"We have crafted a schedule that is challenging for our teams and drivers, as well as enticing to our sponsors and fans," said CART President and CEO Chris Pook. "This schedule holds true to our philosophy of taking the racing to the major urban markets of NAFTA, while at the same time embracing our ties to the rich history of Champ Car racing at such places like Milwaukee, Road America and Long Beach.

"We have an unresolved situation in terms of a date at California Speedway," Pook added. "And until this issue is resolved, we are unable to finalize dates at Mexico City, Korea and Miami. However, agreements exist with all of these venues and once the California Speedway issue is resolved, we will announce the remaining race dates. A similar situation exists with a possible return to Brands Hatch, and we will be able to proceed in that regard as soon as ownership rights to the track are worked out."

2004 BRIDGESTONE PRESENTS THE CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES POWERED BY FORD SCHEDULE
February 22 - St. Petersburg, Florida - Street CourseApril 18 - Long Beach, California - Street CourseMay 16 - Las Vegas, Nevada - Venue to be confirmedMay 23 - Monterrey, Mexico - Road CourseJune 5 - The Milwaukee Mile - OvalJune 20 - Portland International Raceway - Road Course*July 3 - Cleveland, Ohio - Road CourseJuly 11 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada - Street CourseJuly 25 - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - Street CourseAugust 8 - Road America - Road CourseAugust 15 - Denver, Colorado - Street CourseAugust 29 - Montreal, Quebec, Canada - Road CourseSeptember 12 - Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - Road CourseOctober 24 - Surfers Paradise, Australia - Street CourseTBA - Miami, Florida - Street Course**TBA - Mexico City, Mexico - Road Course**TBA - Seoul, South Korea - Road Course**TBA - California Speedway - Superspeedway Oval**
Brands Hatch, UK event status to be determined with track owner/promoter
* - Subject to final commercial terms** - 2004 sanctioning agreements in place

 

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