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Toronto Diary:
Day Three
Receding Grids

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, July 11, 2004 — The final day in Toronto continued the disturbing trend of displaying support series with tiny fields, but the crowd was enthusiastic for the headline event.

Honey, I Shrunk The Grids. A disturbing trend is taking place across the landscape of support series. Grids are getting smaller and smaller. Almost to the point of making many wonder whether there is actually a race taking place. The three road racing support series at Toronto were lacking entries. Trans-Am had 11, Toyota Atlantics had 13 with 12 starting, and Formula Renault had 14.

So, why is it that with all these support series struggling to attract entries, more and more series keep popping up? Though the Barber-Dodge series is on “hiatus” there is now the Formula Renault series (replacing Fran-Am) and the new Formula BMW series. Then there is the group that wanted to get Trans-Am back to its original roots, so they formed the American GT series. All these series including the IRL’s Infinite Pro Series have thin turnouts. In some cases, that’s putting it politely. And this doesn’t even consider all the new series worldwide popping up like weeds.

Many people blame the economy with the fields shrinking both in terms of self funded teams and attracting sponsors. So the solution is to keep creating more series? With business acumen like that, it’s a wonder Chapter 11 lawyers aren’t funding their own teams with the money they will soon be making.

The bottom line is both the competitors and the fans suffer. The fans end up buying a much lesser product with fewer chances of seeing wheel to wheel battles on the track, and the competitors do not get a real chance to hone their skills against tough hard nosed competition.

French Connection. Sebastien Bourdais really appears to be hooked up this year. It is a season unfolding not unlike that of when Cristiano da Matta won the Vanderbilt Cup. It is essentially Bourdais’ title to lose. It would then be ironic if Bourdais was lured off to Formula One when it appears da Matta may be on his way back to Champ Cars most likely with the Newman-Haas team. Therefore, da Matta could end up in Bourdais’ ride, the car Bourdais took over when da Matta left it.

During the post-race press conference, a French Canadian journalist asked Patrick Carpentier a question in French. Of course, Bourdais could understand Carpentier’s answer, leaving Jimmy Vasser as the only person at the table oblivious to what was being said. Bourdais and Carpentier could have said anything they wanted about Vasser, and poor Jimmy wouldn’t know he was the brunt of their jokes.

Still Enthusiastic. Despite the official numbers, the crowd was not as dense in the grandstands. However, there was still a huge turnout and general admission seemed to be as high as last year lining the fences in every possible spot for a glimpse of the race. Whatever the numbers were, the Toronto crowd was as enthusiastic as always, cheering the favorite drivers, groaning when they were involved in incidents, and appreciating the efforts of all the competitors.

Photos by

Copyright © 2004 by Russell Jaslow and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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