Grand Am leaves on good terms
FONTANA – There was not quite the anguish around California Speedway on Wednesday as there was three weeks ago when the track also lost another race on its 2006 schedule. “It’s a difference of night and day between our last announcements,” speedway president Gillian Zucker said. “This was an excellent business decision for Grand American, it’s important to the series.” After a four-year history, the Grand American Rolex Cup Series is leaving the Fontana track for an opportunity to be part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. On Sept. 14, against the speedway’s wishes, the Indy Racing League announced it would not return to Fontana in 2006. The 2005 Indy Toyota 400 will go on as scheduled Oct. 15-16. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 “There is an enormous difference,” Zucker said in comparing the two events. “We don’t fault Grand Am at all for their decision. I think it was a good business decision. “We wanted that (2006) IRL race, we fought for it. That was a loss for the track. As stewards of motorsports, there’s no question of what Grand Am needed to do.” Sanctioning body president Roger Edmundson concurred with that assessment. “There’s no question that the Rolex 24 Hour and Watkins Glen six hour are big events on the sports car calendar, but in terms of their impact on the general public, they pale compared to events like the Indy 500, the Daytona 500 and the Toyota Grand Prix at Long Beach,” Edmundson said. “For us to have an opportunity to bring our style of cars and our teams and their sponsors and all that we represent to that event, and present it to that large crowd in a Los Angeles marketplace, is really a huge event in our history. “It’s a coming out party for us, a sign of our maturity and we are gratified to have that opportunity.” Edmundson said it was not a choice of choosing between Long Beach or Fontana. The decision evolved from limiting the season schedule to 14 races, having two other events in the state and approval from investors for both Grand American and International Speedway Corp., the track owner. “It was only natural, given a choice between moving forward with our friends at Fontana on an event that we are pioneering and moving into one of most famous road races in the world, let alone the North American marketplace, it was kind of a no brainer for us,” Edmundson said. “Keep in mind that a large number of our investors in Grand American are also personnel on the ISC staff, and as a company, they look at what we had an opportunity to do and concurred wholeheartedly in the direction we are taking. “It wasn’t essential to have that blessing, but when one of the major vice presidents of International Speedway recommended that we move forward with this initiative, that pretty well told me that there were certainly no feelings on their part that they would be abandoned or we got to the dance with one girl and we’re dancing with another one now.” The lure of a bigger crowd was another major factor. “I don’t believe we’ve had 65,000 total spectators at Fontana since we started running there,” Edmundson said. “And I have an obligation to these teams and their sponsors, as well as my own to present this program in the best possible light. And at this point in time, there’s not a sanctioning body on the planet that would not have chosen to take advantage of this time slot at Long Beach. “As a matter of fact, (TGPLB CEO) Jim Michaelian has made it very clear that both the American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am, which are the two sports car road racing series, were both very interested in filling that time slot. Fortunately for us, it was Jim’s choice that we fit the bill.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!