Racing fraternity among Grand Prix of Toronto's strongest supporters



    TORONTO, Feb. 27 /CNW/ - Grand Prix of Toronto president Charlie
Johnstone isn't the only one who will be avidly following today's news
conference in Miami announcing details about last week's open-wheel racing
unification between the Champ Car World Series and Indy Racing League (IRL).
    With the folding of Champ Car into the IRL, the fate of the popular Grand
Prix of Toronto has yet to be determined, hence the keen interest of Johnstone
and a broad community composed of racing fans, sponsors, business partners and
commercial establishments toward an event that injects some $50 million into
the local economy.
    Johnstone, who regards the unification of the two racing series as an
extremely positive development, has been working diligently with the IRL, the
city of Toronto and the various stakeholders to overcome the various logistic
issues introduced by the merger and solidify the Toronto event for the 2008
schedule.
    "While there are still obstacles to clear, from my many conversations I
sense there is a lot of goodwill and intention on the part of everyone
involved," said Johnstone. "I believe all parties realize that Toronto has a
wealth of attributes as an outstanding venue, with a rich tradition, strong
base of fans, sponsors, partners and government support and a solid
infrastructural network."
    Toronto's status as a top-notch racing venue earns an emphatic thumbs-up
from many of the drivers that have competed there over the years. This group
includes seven-time Grand Prix of Toronto winner Michael Andretti, Paul Tracy,
of Scarborough, Ont., a two-time winner, and fellow Canadian driver Alex
Tagliani.
    "Toronto has always been one of the signature events in open-wheel racing
in North America and is just a great circuit and venue," said Andretti, now a
team owner in the IRL. "The fans there are unbelievable in how they support
IndyCar racing, and I think it would be a huge addition to the IndyCar series
schedule, for sure. Toronto is a place that I love to go to. When I was
racing, it was always the highlight of my year."
    Tracy has been racing in the Grand Prix of Toronto since 1991, and his
victories there, 10 years apart, in 1993 and 2003, are among the most
memorable moments in the history of the event, for Tracy, as well as the more
than 70,000 fans in attendance.
    "There's no bigger thrill than being able to win your home race, and
certainly those two days will always stand out in my mind," said Tracy. "I
enjoy everything about returning home to race in Toronto every year - it's a
terrific venue, the fans are really into it, and the atmosphere around the
entire city during race week is really exciting."
    Tagliani knows the feeling; since the first podium finish of his Champ
Car career came in Toronto, when he finished second in the 2001 race. Like
Tracy, he has a special place in his heart for the Grand Prix of Toronto.
    "One of the highlights of my annual visit to Toronto is the intense media
attention we receive and the popular support we feel from the city," he said.
"The media devote a lot of coverage to the event, are really knowledgeable
about the sport and fun to work with. It really inspires you and makes you
want to give them the performance of your life."

    MEDIA ADVISORY DETAILS

    The unification news conference begins at 12:15 p.m. ET at the Homestead
Miami Speedway. There will be live streaming on the IRL website and live
coverage by the SPEED network.

    
    WHAT:   Indy Racing League Founder and Chief Executive Officer
            Tony George and Champ Car Co-Owner Kevin Kalkhoven will
            hold a press conference to discuss the details of the open-wheel
            racing unification agreement.

    WHEN:   12:15 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Feb. 27

    WHERE:  Homestead-Miami Speedway
            Press Conference Room

    INTERACTIVE TELECONFERENCE: Media will be able to listen live to the
    press conference and ask questions following the announcement through a
    dial-in teleconference. A transcript will be available at
    www.indycar.com/media. Username: media, password: indycar.

    Call-In Number: (866) 475-2663 or (847) 413-3137
    Confirmation: 6674241
    




For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview with Charlie
Johnstone, please contact: Rachelle Khalaf, Public Relations Specialist,
Torchia Communications, P: (616) 433-6786, C: (616) 540-2984, E:
rachelle@torchiacom.com or Lawrence Stevenson, Senior Account Director,
Torchia Communications, P: (416) 341-9929 x 222, C: (416) 554-4545, E:
lawrence@torchiacom.com

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GRAND PRIX ASSOCIATION OF TORONTO

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