The revival of the Honda Toronto Indy in 2009 got a huge boost this week when ABC/ESPN announced that the July 12 race will be one of five races to get full network treatment next season.
The other races on the ABC/ESPN list are the Indianapolis 500, the Milwaukee Mile, the Iowa Speedway and Watkins Glen International.
The remaining races on the IndyCar Series schedule -- including the July 26 Rexall Edmonton Indy -- will be shown on the U.S. cable network Versus. Canadian broadcasting rights have not yet been released but it would be safe to assume that TSN -- in which ESPN has a minority interest -- will get the nod north of the border.
The deal marks the 45th year ABC has broadcast the Indy 500, but the first year that the series will go to a cable-only provider for the majority -- 11 of 18 -- of its events.
IndyCar officials, however, expressed optimism that the new television package will continue to grow the sport.
"We are very excited about engaging two broadcast partners," Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division for the Indy Racing League, said. "Having the season essentially broken into three segments -- three races on Versus, five of the next seven races on ABC and then eight straight races on Versus -- will give fans a consistent place to find the IndyCar Series all season."
The 2009 season will kick off with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 5 and end at Homestead Miami Speedway Oct. 10.
Canadian sport car veteran Scott Maxwell could wrap up the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series GS class championship this weekend at Virginia International Raceway.
Maxwell and American Joe Foster, co-driver of the No. 55 Hyper Sport Ford Mustang GT, have two victories this season, including a win at Mosport International Raceway last May.
The pair holds a slim one-point lead over Bret Seafuse and James Gue in the No. 37 JBS Racing Mustang FR500C. In all, seven drivers are within eight points. Maxwell is looking for his second KONI Challenge championship (he won the 2002 GSI title), and Foster his first.
AIM ADDS MARCELLI
AIM Motorsports has added 18-year-old Kyle Marcelli, of Barrie, Ont., to its Star Mazda team at Road Atlanta Saturday.
Marcelli, who this season raced in the Pro F2000 Series after winning the 2007 Ontario Formula Ford Championship, will join John Edwards of Cincinnati on the team.
"Kyle has proved his skills behind the wheel these last two seasons," team manager Keith Willis said. "This is a good opportunity for us to bring that skill level up a notch in the very competitive Star Mazda series. We will also learn more with two cars on the track. Both John and Kyle have experience on the Road Atlanta circuit that should provide us valuable feedback."
RICKY TACKLES TALLADEGA
When Ricky Carmichael retired from active motocross racing in 2007 he held almost every record in the sport, including most wins in a career and most wins in a season.
For the past season he has moved to four wheels in the hopes of graduating up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and this weekend the 28-year-old native of Clearwater, Fla., will attempt to qualify in the ARCA RE/MAX 250 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Carmichael will be driving the Kevin Harvick Inc. No. 33 Chevrolet. It marks his first start for the KHI organization. Carmichael and the team completed a successful two-day test in mid-September at the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
Dale Earnhardt Incorporated's Paul Menard will leave the No. 15 Chevrolet team to race for Yates Racing in the Sprint Cup Series next season. "This is a great opportunity and I'm glad to be joining the Yates Racing organization next season," he said ... Red Bull Racing has announced that former Formula One driver Scott Speed and NASCAR veteran Mike Skinner will share driving duties for the rest of the Sprint Cup season in the No. 84 Toyota. A.J. Allmendinger who has driven the car for the past two seasons, was told prior to last week's race in Kansas that he was being replaced.