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G W North

C.A.R.T. in judge's hands

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Indy crashes

$40M, 5,000 jobs hang in balance

Judge to decide popular race's fate



The city's economy faces a $40 million hit and the jobs of up to 5,000 people are at risk if the Indy Racing League succeeds in buying the assets of the bankrupt CART series and cancels the Molson Indy.

Also at risk is hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to children's charities raised each year through IndyFest events in Toronto and Vancouver.

At a time when Toronto is trying to revive its flagging tourism industry, the prospect of losing a sure bet like the three-day Indy, which attracted more than 167,000 people last year, is grim.

"If we lose the Molson Indy it will create a big hole in our events calendar," Brian Ashton, chair of the city's economic development committee, said yesterday.

A bankruptcy judge in Indianapolis will decide the fate of Championship Auto Racing Teams tomorrow. He will weigh competing offers for the series, which filed for bankruptcy last month after reporting losses of $78 million (U.S.) through the first three quarters of 2003.

Bidding against the IRL, a rival circuit set up in 1996, is a trio of CART team owners who plan to continue the troubled series under the ownership of their Open Wheel Racing Series partnership.

IRL spokesperson Fred Nation confirmed yesterday that if its offer for CART assets is accepted, the 2004 Toronto Molson Indy would not be added to the IRL schedule, effectively cancelling the July event

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Although I'd love to see IRL and CART merge again, I would much perfer it be a merger of equals, rather than a take over. IRL is less interesting to me, since it is dominated by Oval circuits, where the CART racing is mostly road courses, and urban racing, with some ovals. CART offers the only DT circuit racing in North America that I am aware of. It would be a huge loss if these events are lost.

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