The Grand Prix of St Petersburg could return to the Champ Car World Series calendar later this year, as organisers press for a new slot following the cancellation of its season-opening date.

The uncertainty surrounding the future of CART and Champ Car racing as a whole caused the original 22 February slot to be axed in order for the proposed acquisition by Open Wheel Racing Series to be accepted and cleared by the courts, but event organisers are now hoping that the race can be re-scheduled a couple of months into the campaign.

The future of the CCWS is due to be determined in little over a week's time, when US bankruptcy judge Frank Otte rules on whether or not OWRS can legitimately acquire the assets of previous overseer CART in order to resurrect the series. Should OWRS get the nod, the season would open with the Grand Prix of Long Beach in early April, with St Pete hopefully settling into a mid-May slot.

That would leave those behind the Florida event with a relatively short time to secure sponsorship and sort out the logistics associated with attracting a dozen race teams, the supporting programme and thousands of the fans to the city. Although previous promoter Dover Motorsports has dropped its rights to the race, event general manager Tim Ramsberger told the local St Petersburg Times newspaper that he had been contacted by the sponsors of the axed Grand Prix Americas race in Miami, and confirmed that previous backer Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club would remain on board.

"We can't sign any contracts with sponsors right now," Ramsberger said, "But we have to make sure they are up to date so we can activate quickly, very quickly."

Adding to the headache, however, is the presence of the rival Indy Racing League, which has apparently begun to sniff around the remains of the old Champ Car World Series in the hope of finding a tasty treat on which to mount its own expansion into road and street-course racing. Although the OWRS believes that there is little threat from the IRL, others believe that the currently oval-only series could seek to disrupt the bankruptcy hearing - and the future of any OWRS-run series - by introducing a bid of its own. Bids must be submitted by Friday [23 January], with Judge Otte ruling on the new owners by the middle of next week.

"We should be able to make an announcement [regarding the future of the St Pete race] on the 29th," Ramsberger told reporters, "We remain excited and optimistic about the potential of this race."

 

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