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IndyCar can’t be in Texas and Toronto at the same time

Published August 5, 2014

The controversy – if you want to call it that – over the dates of the 2015 Honda Indy Toronto became curiouser Tuesday night when Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage Tweeted that he had a deal with IndyCar to run a race on the same weekend the series would reportedly be in Toronto.

Said Gossage, in his message transmitted a few minutes past 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday night: “As I said before, @IndyCar returns 6/6/15 for 19th straight year @TxMotorSpeedway. Mark Miles & I shook hands on it in June.”

The hashtag? #Tradition.

Ever since the 2014 Honda Indy Toronto races ended a little more than two weeks ago, there have been a number of reports about the dates for the 2015 renewal.

Why? Because the Pan Am Games open in Toronto next July 10, which is right around the time of the month the Indy has been traditionally held going back to the first Molson Indy in 1986. 

I reported in the Toronto Star on the Friday of the Indy weekend that because of the Games, the race would have to be moved back to sometime in June next year - although I didn’t have a date. 

My colleague over at the Toronto Sun, Dean McNulty, then reported that negotiations were taking place for the Toronto races to replace the double-header in Houston that had been held this year on the last weekend in June. Dean, who has excellent sources and is a good reporter, suggested the Toronto race would then likely be held the last weekend in June in ’15.

Last Friday night, Curt Cavin reported in the Indianapolis Star that the owners of the Honda Indy had a contract with the City of Toronto that stipulated the race would have to be held in 2015 on the weekend of June 5-7.

The June 5-7 weekend could prove difficult, however. As I’ve written previously, that is the traditional weekend that the F1 Grand Prix du Canada is held in Montreal. Does the Honda Indy really want to go up against F1?

And can it? Will the FIA approve two major international events in one country on the same day, particularly when they are only 550 kms apart? I don’t know about that. For instance, would there be enough marshals to go around for two major events?

And will Bernie Ecclestone approve? Don’t kid yourself, Ecclestone has way more influence with the FIA than IndyCar does and when F1 is in a country, Bernie doesn’t want any competition, period.

Be that as it may, Kevin Savoree, one-half (with Kim Green) of the Savoree-Green organization that owns the Honda Indy, is fond of saying that because the race is held on the streets of Toronto, everything is on the public record and all reporters have to do is look things up.

The Star did a check last week with the city’s transportation department (the people who decide if and when public roads will be closed), which said nothing was in place yet for 2015.

However, a document does exist that explains where Cavin might have gotten his June 5-7 date.

In a memo to the Board of Governors of Exhibition Place dated Jan. 27, 2014, Dianne Young, chief executive officer, recommends a three-year agreement with Green Savoree Toronto ULC (“GST”) for races in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The memo is stamped: “Action Required.”

 It details how important the Indy is to the economy of Toronto and discusses some of the financial ramifications. I will not go into those now, except to say that the race weekend doesn’t appear to make much, if any, money.

But here are the pertinent paragraphs so far as dates are concerned. In “Appendix A, Terms and Conditions for Honda Indy Contract 2012 to 2014, Green Savoree Toronto ULC hereinafter referred to as “GST”

“(a) Term – Three (3) years commencing Jan. 1, 2015.

“(b) Race Days: The automobile race shall be run over four (4) consecutive days commencing on a Thursday and ending on the Sunday which falls on June 4, 5, 6 and 7, 2015 and, subject to the approval of the Sanctioning Body (IRL), on July 14, 15, 16 and 17, 2016 and on July 13, 14, 15 and 16, 2017, provided that GST shall, by November 1st of the year preceding the race, give notice of any adjustment to these proposed dates for the race in 2015, 2016 or 2017 as may be required by the Sanctioning Body (IRL) and propose alternate dates for the approval of the Board.”

So that’s where the June 5-7 dates have come from, it appears. But it also shows that there is wiggle room – Nov. 1, 2014 – so far as changing the date is concerned.

I mean, it’s possible that Savoree-Green just applied to run the race the first weekend in June, knowing full well there was a rider in there that would allow them to apply to move the date to fit into whatever weekend IndyCar had open later that month.

Eddie Gossage says IndyCar will be racing in Texas that weekend in June next year so now we’ll just have to wait to see if and where Toronto lands on the schedule.

- NORRIS McDONALD (nmcdonald@thestar.ca)

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