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NASCAR In Canada, Eh?

I know I'm a bit late in making this announcement as Marc at Full Throttle made it yesterday and Diecast Dude talked about it today, but I deliberately waited until I've heard what others had to say. Being from Canada I didn't want my eagerness to talk about the announcement to be confused as national pride instead of what it really is; a racing fan's enthusiasm. And to be honest, once I've had time to digest this announcement, I don't know if I'm really all that happy. The fan in me is cheering at the thought of having NASCAR come to Canada - I was a bit miffed when NASCAR went to Mexico before coming to Canada. But the skeptic in me is saying, "This isn't right and it may set back NASCAR's plans for Canada by decades". Let me explain.

NASCAR is coming to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, which in all honesty is the only track in Canada capable of holding a NASCAR event from any of the top 3 series (Truck, Busch, and Cup). I'll talk about Cayuga Speedway later. So here is the problem with Circuit Gilles Villeneuve; its near Montreal in the Province of Quebec. What is wrong with that you ask? Let me tell you.

1) Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a road course - last time I checked NASCAR doesn't really do road courses. Road courses don't make as much profit as ovals do. Most ovals provide the fan a viewing advantage that road courses don't, you can see the whole track all of the time unlike road courses where you see only part of the track. Ovals have stadium seating which seats more fans than any road course. Even Bristol can offer more seats to spectators than a road course can.

2) French Canadians are F1 fans. The Canadian Gran Prix is held at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve every year. The track is named after the French Canadian F1 driver Gilles Villeneuve. The French Canadian fans probably won't know what to do if there isn't a Ferrari in the field - Gilles drove for Ferrari before his untimely death in a race.

3) There are no other Major urban centres (Canadian or U.S.) near Montreal to attract other fans, except for Ottawa. A track near Toronto would be a better choice. Toronto is in Southern Ontario and it is the most heavily populated area in Canada. It is near Buffalo and Detroit as well, which can also tap into the U.S. NASCAR fan base. Living in Southern Ontario, given the choice to go to Montreal for a road course Busch race or to Walkens Glen (which is closer) or to Michigan (which is closer and has both Busch and Cup iraces n Aug) I would go to the U.S. tracks. Where will the fans come from? I don't know. Buffalo has Walkens Glen, Michigan, and even Pocono; Detroit has Michigan, Chicago, and Indy; New York City has Dover, Walkens Glen, and New Hampshire; the New England States have New Hampshire - as do the Provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Let me briefly talk about Cayuga Speedway. It is located in Southern Ontario and it is ideally located to attract fans from Southern Ontario, Buffalo, and Detroit, but is severely lacking in amenities. Now the track has just been bought and the new owner is dedicated to bring it back to its former glory. Let me tell you, even in its former glory that track was far from being of NASCAR caliber. I've been going to that track since I was kid and I've seen Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, and others race ASA there and I've seen Kenny Schrader, Dale Earnhardt, and others race in special promotion races as well. That track is going to need a lot of cash to get it to NASCAR caliber, and even then the best it could do is probably attract the odd Busch race at first and then a regular truck race. Plus, how long is NASCAR going to sit around waiting for the new owner to raise the funds to improve the track and then to implement the improvements? My guess is, not very long.

Please see my post on May 18th for further insight into my opinions about NASCAR coming to Canada. The way I see it is that the Busch race in Canada is going to be like it was in Mexico - good for the first year and then a significant drop in attendance the next year. This is where I feel it will set back NASCAR's entry into the Canadian market. If the race in Quebec fails, (which I think it will eventually) then NASCAR will pull out of Canada and delay entry for along time as they re-evaluate the situation - which means they're going elsewhere, like Europe, India or Australia.

If you think I'm wrong please convince me otherwise, as the race fan in me wants NASCAR to stay, but the skeptic in me is saying its not going to happen. Please make the skeptic in me shut-up!