Denver Grand Prix

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    Champ Car to drop Denver race The Grand Prix of Denver appears to be coming to an end after a five-year run on the Pepsi Center grounds.

    Although the race remained on the 2007 Champ Car World Series schedule as of Monday, an announcement today that two new European races will be added to the circuit is further evidence of trouble in Denver, according to Jim Hancock, former president and current consultant for Sutton International Motorsports, co-owner of the Denver race along with Champ Car.

    “I’m fairly confident that Denver is dead,” Hancock said. “I’m fairly certain that they are announcing that (Denver) assets have been sold, along with a bunch of other things.”

    Champ Car spokesman Eric Mauk said Denver has nothing to do with today’s expansion announcement, but conceded the event is in trouble.

    “It’s still on the schedule, (but) I know they have concerns,” Mauk said of Champ Car president Steve Johnson and co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven.

    Neither Johnson nor Kalkhoven returned phone messages from The Denver Post on Monday.

    Denver-area resident Jim Freudenberg, the 2005 Grand Prix of Denver general manager, who owns expansion Champ Car races in Phoenix and Las Vegas, said it is premature to say the Denver race is dead, but it doesn’t look good.

    “Yeah, it always looks that way without a sponsor and a promoter,” he said, “but I think it’s really too early to tell right now because racing is a passionate sport and Champ Car has passionate owners.”

    Champ Car ran the 2006 Denver race on its own, after Bob Sutton, then CEO of Centrix Financial, backed out of promoting, sponsoring and running the event because of business problems.

    “I’ll be very surprised if they run it again,” said John Frew, Sutton’s attorney, who served as the event’s first general manager.

    The Grand Prix’s downtown office closed after the 2006 race, and first-year general manager Rob Johnson resigned. Steve Johnson previously said Champ Car would continue in Denver without a local promoter. Hancock said he is unaware of any discussions between Champ Car and Sutton to produce a 2007 race.

    It is possible Champ Car put Denver on its 2007 schedule to keep the rival Indy Racing League from expanding its street racing interests in the city this year.

    Hancock said he expects Denver to host future street races, but probably not with Champ Car. “Denver was a viable market,” he said. “The struggle is with Champ Car.” Denver Post

    [Editor’s Note: We got wind of this race being in trouble last year in Mexico City, but Champ Car president Steve Johnson denied it would not happen. As it turns out, our original info appears correct. Champ Car comes across looking very weak with each and every race that goes under. How cheesy does it look to have your first major news of the year in the U.S. being that races you have on your schedule are being cancelled? This is the third or fourth year in a row that they’ve had to cancel races the same year.

    Denver was a big market with a decent attendance, better than, say Montreal’s attendance, so to see Denver fail sends out a negative message to other race promoters and potential series sponsors. Recall Dick Eidswick’s statements a couple of years ago that Champ Car would not exceed 16 races per year. With the loss of Denver, the 2007 schedule would be reduced to 16.]

    Doug Welch

    Very few races make money on their own. The vast majority of races outside NASCRAP need an influx of cash to make them viable. Without a coporate sponsor, the Denver GP would have never happened in the first place. Since they are gone, its no surpise that the event is gone. Just another reason to do the Rotax Grands!

    (Shamless plug)

    Greg Johnson

    NASCRAP? Give me a break. I would say that open wheel is crap. Cant even get a sponsor for their races. Or enough people to watch. Lame.But what do I know, I race Briggs engines.:shock:

    Mike Jansen

    Like Brian Robson said in an earlier post: Mixed feelings about the whole thing re. open wheel.

    Tony George has the crown Jewel, the Indy 500. TG also changed his blueprint into another spec series, ala Champ car. Kevin Kalhoven’s ego is as big as TG’s and doesn’t want to lose this battle, but his crown jewel is what – I’m trying to figure out. So both sides lose and we’re the chumps that suffer. I’d like to see both sides fail and perhaps the Phoenix will rise from the ashes. TG, love him or hate him has the $$$ to win since the Brickyard and F1 race just put money into his coffers to finance the IRL (right Brian) and that beast ain’t going away.

    In the meantime, I’ll watch the other spec series, WWF err, NASCAR and see what AJ and Juan Pablo can do and enjoy it. At least they have fans in the seats and I always enjoy my middle of the race siesta.

    Bitter, party of one out…

    larry toby

    You can’t help but ask, will SSC change the location of the Rotax Grand Nationals if the Champ race doesn’t happen in Denver? Remember last year? SSC announced the grands would be in our backyard in Utah and got a lot of people excited. Later they changed the venue to Road America so it would co-incide with the Champ car race there. The dates were set this year to go hand in hand with the Champ car race in Denver. I certainly hope it doesn’t happen but I won’t be surprised if we see another announcement soon.

    Curt Kistler

    Now that you are all bummed out about the reality of a street race in Denver, wait until you hear the latest PPIR rumors.

    This is what CO has needed for a long time, and it sounds like it is going to happen.

    And please, no bitching about the location. It beats West KS!

    How’s that for a teaser Dougie?

    Doug Welch

    @larry toby wrote:

    You can’t help but ask, will SSC change the location of the Rotax Grand Nationals if the Champ race doesn’t happen in Denver? Remember last year?

    There are signed contracts in hand. With Miller, there were no contracts. The deal with Champ Car is little more than a marketing agreement to show karts.

    Les Prins

    Curt, Do you mean in Genoa or at PPIR?

    Curt Kistler

    PPIR. All those tear down and scrape stories were bad rumors. Just wait till you see the new deal. That’s all I can say for now. Sorry.

    Rusty Newberry

    Doug, Have you bought you lot yet? Private airport communities are so passe.


    Doug Welch

    LOL I wish. If you don’t own at least a prancing stallion, they aren’t interested in the likes of us.

    Joe Rosse

    It couldn’t have helped that the Democratic convention is coming to Denver. I can’t imagine the security folks would be wild about having a race right around the Pepsi Center the week before the convention.

    It’s a bummer, but of course all the Rotaxians wouldn’t have had much time to enjoy the Champ Car event anyway. (Yeah, I know, sour grapes!)

    Larry’s got a good point about Rotax having a history of making changes in venues, but as I understand it, Rotax pretty well knew that the Denver GP was history when they made the decision to bring Nationals here. Sounds like they realized Colorado is a great location regardless of the Champ Car connection.

    Doug Welch

    The Rotax guys realized that Champ Car gave them zip, diddly, nada, nothing for being at RA last year. In fact, they had to pay through the nose. Add to that the Rotaxians were treated like second class citizens to Motard drivers, that’s pretty low on the ‘ol totum pole.

    Lets give Jim credit, he made the offer to Rotax pretty sweet. Jim offered them things they didn’t think they could get and if I know Jim, he will do this thing up right. Look for big time corporate sponsorship and perks like we have never seen at any level of karting. If anything, the lose of the DGP is better for us. There is still s certain level of corporate $$$ sitting out there looking to be spent, and a certain promotor we all know will work very hard to get some of them. Some are looking at this as a set back, I see this as a great opportunity. If anything, it has the potential to better for us with Champ Car gone.

    Mike Edwards

    Doug….I thought Greg was your prancing stallion. And I bet they do love you or at least your money!

    Mikey :cheers:

    Joe Rosse


    I agree that the Rotax Nationals at Road America had some problems, although it sounded to me like it was poor communication/planning among RA, Champ Car and Rotax rather than Champ Car dissing Rotax. Despite that, though, it was pretty magical to have Formula BMWs, Atlantics and Champ Cars practicing and qualifying right around us while working on our karts in our pits. Pat and I won’t forget that experience anytime soon!

    That to me is the bummer of Champ Car not coming to Denver–it was our opportunity to have professional open wheel racing in our midst. I agree that not having the Denver Grand Prix shouldn’t detract from the RMC Nationals. But it does detract from the local racing scene more generally. Let’s hope that the rumors about PPIR, Genoa, etc. will replace the loss of the Denver GP (for the second time!) Meanwhile, we can look forward to having the Rotax Nationals here! :cheers:

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