June 9, 2011
Double dose of Lights in Edmonton
By TERRY JONES, QMI Agency
MONTREAL - Double your pleasure? Double your fun?
Will trophy girls be the Doublemint Twins?
OK, maybe their granddaughters?
It’ll be a twin spin. A double-dip.
This year there will be two Firestone Indy Light races on the Edmonton Indy program instead of one.
So the new Octane Motorsports Events promoters of the Edmonton race figured out a way how to solve the embarrassment of having only 13 cars show up for last year’s Edmonton Indy support series race?
Well, that is a happy benefit.
“It guarantees the fans a maximum number of of entries on the Indy Lights grid,” said Francois Dumontier, president of the team that promotes the Canadian Grand Prix race here this weekend.
“With the doubleheader coming to Edmonton, it makes it very attractive for teams and for drivers.
There’s going to be good money and a lot of series points to collect. We needed to insure there would be a lot more action for the fans.”
But Dumontier doesn’t want to kid anybody here.
That’s not the real reason for two Indy Lights races.
“We signed our deal with the city so late we weren’t able to sign any other series for our support races,” he said.
“When we called the other series, they had their calendars full. When it came to other series available, we had about … well, none.”
Even the Canadian Tire stock car series wouldn’t move a race in Vernon, B.C. to give their sponsors and drivers exposure.
For two consecutive years in the ChampCar Series beginnings of the Edmonton race, the Formula Atlantic support series ran a Saturday, Sunday doubleheader at the Edmonton event, current IndyCar driver Raphael Matos winning both races in 2007.
“Having the extra race gives us 12 hours with the open-wheel cars on the track,” said Dumontier.
Also on the program will be the Northern Alberta Sports Car Club Eurasia GT Invitational. More than 50 cars in five categories will be involved in that one. The Canadian Drift Mania program will also be part of the program.
Dumontier says while this may have been the solution to a few problems this year, he guarantees to blow the doors off Edmonton race fans with his support series plans for 2012.
The whole idea is to try to replicate the Formula 1 scene here with the Indy scene in Edmonton.
Indeed, he may sign the entire support series here this year for Edmonton next year.
The Canadian Grand Prix show features the Ferrari Challenge, the Porsche MSA GT3 Challenge, a Formula 1600 race and the Historic Grand Prix.
The latter was introduced here last year.
“It was amazing. We had no choice, they were so popular we had to bring them back this year. They put on a good show. And they race. It’s not a parade. They’re out there racing.”
The Historic Grand Prix is adding the McLaren M-26 driven by James Hunt in 1977 and the 1978 championship-winning Lotus driven by Mario Andretti.
Cars built by Brabham, Tyrell, March, Shadow as well as Williams and Ferraris, two of which were driven by the late Gilles Villeneuve, are also part of the series.
“We’ve already talked to a lot of series and a lot of series want to come to Edmonton next year. We’ll be in exactly the opposite situation,” said Dumontier
There’s also the stock-car option of NASCAR’s KNN West Series, in which St. Albert’s father-son team of Carl and Daryl Harr are racing. They’re putting 32 cars on the track this summer.
But all of that is next year. This year it’s a double dose of the series which produced (along with the Champ Car equivalent Atlantic Championship Series) most of today’s IndyCar Series drivers.
With 18-20 cars expected this year, the series will likely feature three Canadian drivers this time around.
Mikael Grenier of Quebec City and David Ostella of Maple, Ont. are both 19-year-old rookies.
Organizers are also working hard to secure young Edmonton hotfoot Stefan Rzadzinski with sponsorship to drive the Canadian races in the series.
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