Gas law delay for Canuck races

JIM CRESSMAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- Money talks and the Canadian government has listened. Environment Minister John Baird has extended the reprieve on a total ban of leaded fuel for competition purposes until Jan. 1, 2010.

The ban was to come into effect this past January, but in February Baird extended the reprieve until Jan. 1, 2009.

This latest announcement is great news to the International Hot Rod Association and drag racing fans in this country, who stood to lose the most. IHRA president Aaron Polburn, who made a major submission to the federal government, said the three national events in Canada - at Grand Bend Motorplex, Toronto Motorsports Park near Cayuga, and Edmonton's Castrol Raceway - have an economic impact of $29 million each year.

"The economic impact, without question," Polburn said yesterday when asked about the thrust of the IHRA's submission.

"I think the people who are making these decisions now understand this is a far bigger industry, and not just the drag racing side, than they realized. They now know how many people come across the border and how big the sport is in Canada."

There are some classes - professional and amateur - in drag racing still dependent on leaded fuel, and while the industry works on alternatives, there wasn't enough time as enforcing the ban now would have likely killed the IHRA in Canada.

"This is not just good news, but great news," Polburn said from IHRA headquarters in Norwalk, Ohio. IHRA is a division of Live Nation and there are 11 events in the Knoll Gas Nitro Jam Series.

Baird said this decision shows the government "supports the racing industry" in Canada.


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