TORONTO, March 5 /CNW/ - While the majority of motorsports enthusiasts
continue to celebrate the unification of North American open-wheel racing
under the Indy Racing League (IRL) banner, Toronto fans and businesses have
much less to cheer about. Grand Prix of Toronto CEO Charlie Johnstone
confirmed today the 23rd edition of the race has been cancelled and that he
now faces a critical period of negotiations to secure the event's future in
"We received an impressive show of support from IRL, Exhibition Place,
drivers, local leaders such as Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone and numerous
partners," said Mr. Johnstone. "Unfortunately, we ran out of options and time
for 2008. That doesn't mean the future is bleak, but we'll need concrete
actions from our partners to solidify the event's foundation and status as a
marquee event in North American open-wheel racing."
Johnstone now begins a critical phase of renewing contracts with the City
of Toronto, IRL, sponsors and partners. While impressed by the broad-based
support for the race, especially among the business and tourism industries,
Johnstone acknowledges that's not enough.
"We deeply appreciate the groundswell of support shown in recent weeks.
Having a Toronto race is clearly important to numerous groups; but we must now
coordinate our efforts with the city, province, IRL, sponsors and partners,
sooner rather than later."
Held annually since 1986, the Grand Prix of Toronto has become Ontario's
largest annual sporting event, attracting an average of 160,000 spectators on
race weekend. The economic impact of the Grand Prix and the weeklong
festivities surrounding it is a reported $50 million. More than $40 million of
these expenditures are the result of initial attendance and Grand Prix
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