The outcome of tomorrow's decision on the future of the Champ Car World Series will not only affect those teams and drivers involved, but could also seriously affect the economies of the circuits and cities that have played host to the series for years.

US bankruptcy judge Frank Otte will rule whether the OWRS or IRL win the bidding war for the assets on offer from the defunct CART operation, with victory for the latter likely to alter the landscape of American open-wheel racing irrevocably.

Should Tony George's bid be accepted as the best by Otte, it could mean the end of open-wheel action in several major cities, not least those in Canada. While Long Beach is known to be among the assets specifically targeted by George and the IRL, events such as those in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto look set to be abandoned as only a select number of road and street courses are likely to be added to the currently oval-only schedule from 2005..

IRL spokesperson Fred Nation has already confirmed that the 2004 Toronto Molson Indy would not be included on the IRL schedule should the series win the bidding war, ending a run of 17 successful events in the city. Other Molson Indy events in Vancouver and Montreal would also be cancelled.

According to the Toronto Star newspaper, the city's economy faces a $40million loss should the annual Champ Car event not return - and could cost as many as 5000 jobs. Both Toronto - which also suffered badly during the global SARS virus outbreak - and Vancouver accompanied their events with charity fundraisers and, these too, would be lost.

"If we lose the Molson Indy, it will create a big hole in our events calendar," Brian Ashton, chairman of the city's economic development committee, told the newspaper,
"It generates up to $40million for the city's economy and the public relations value for the city is huge."

Although the Champ Car series would be the only one lost from the event, Molson Indy general manager Bob Singleton says that it would not be viable to stage the weekend purely for what would normally be supporting acts.

"Unless we can deliver a world-class product for our race fans, I can't see us going forward doing anything else," he explained, "If you want to go see your Barber Dodges and CASCARs, there are numerous opportunities in southern Ontario to do so. We certainly don't need to incur the costs, multi-millions of dollars to put up a temporary circuit, to do that."

Insiders are hopeful that the OWRS bid will win purely because of the financial and social implications involved in siding with the IRL. Should the bids be fairly evenly matched, the fact that fewer jobs and incomes would be lost with the OWRS may tip the balance.

 

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