NASCAR seeks $1M from Canada to promote Gilles-Villeneuve track

The International Speedway Corporation (ISC) has asked the Federal and Provincial governments for $1,000,000 USD to help improve the races in Montreal. It seems that the money would be used to promote the Canadian NASCAR event at the other tracks owned and operated by the ISC in the States. This cross promotion is supposed to drum up tourism for the Canadian city.

While the ISC is asking for cash, Pierre Bellerose, vice-president of Tourisme Montreal, couldn’t help himself from pointing out that NASCAR is a bit more, shall we say, pedestrian than F1. According to the Toronto Sun:

“NASCAR is the American middle-class,” said Bellerose. “The F1, that’s the international jet-setter.”
“For now, it’s more visibility than anything else,” he said. “But it’s important.”

Actually, that’s very nice of you to say Mr. Bellerose because down here people often refer to them as “Red Necks” but thanks for being culturally sensitive and the point still stands. What kind of draw would cross promoting the Canadian NASCAR race be if they announced it at Talladega?

Francois Dumontier, Montreal’s NASCAR and Formula 1 promoter, did not confirm the ISC request but did say:

“We want to do a promotion on the American courses to attract people here,” said Dumontier. “ISC is the owner of 12 other courses and holds a hundred races across the United States. This direct promotion can be very efficient.”

The 2009 attendance and economics for the NASCAR race were “average for a recession” said Raymond Bachand, Quebec’s minister of finance. He did say that he may consider it if the economics work out:

“I am never opposed when an event helps develop Quebec and attracts tourism. After that, you have to look at the numbers and be meticulous. We will study this. I will meet the organizers next week.”

Let’s look at those comments about the NASCAR event juxtaposed with the F1 race in Canada. The economics provided are:

$75 million for the city’s economy, as European tourists packed hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
Quebec made about $10 million in exchange for $5 million in public funds. In all, the governments earned between $16-17 million in sales taxes. That is without accounting for the 30% cut for ticket sales, which reportedly amounted to $2 million.

It is the biggest event in Canada and there was never any question about the economics of the F1 race, all they had to do was bring it back. Blanchand said:

“It will be very profitable this year,” said Bachand. “It is the number one tourism event in Canada. For merchants, it is the biggest weekend of the year, even for men’s clothing. I don’t expect that with NASCAR.”

Maybe it’s not a case of needing more promotion, maybe it’s just a case of Canadian’s having more discernment and liking proper racing instead of mobile billboards going in circles until you fall asleep when they then rudely awake you with a competition caution for the final three laps.

Somehow I see the F1 race footing the bill for his but maybe that’s just me.

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