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Montreal! A NASCAR Sprint Cup stop next time around? Why not? | NASCAR Racing Breaking News: Trackside Live, Every Week, Every Sprint Cup Race - MikeMulhern.net


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Montreal! A NASCAR Sprint Cup stop next time around? Why not?

  Now this is the kind of weather NASCAR teams are hoping for in Sunday's Nationwide race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Photo: Autostock)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Montreal is a world-class city, and world-renowned.
   And Canadians love NASCAR racing.
   Well, if NASCAR needs Montreal as a tour stop -- and obviously somebody big in Daytona decided a few years ago that this sport did, probably by checking out the number of snowbird Canadians buying tickets to each February's Daytona 500 -- then the NASCAR Frances need to make it a full Sprint Cup weekend, with all the bells and whistles and stars.
   And if NASCAR wants to keep the sport's momentum rolling through late summer into the championship playoffs, it certainly can't afford an off-Cup-weekend like this one.
   And if NASCAR wants to make a stand about its brand of racing, and its global marketing potential, now might be just the time.
   International marketing and pushing global promotions have been very weak spots in the NASCAR agenda over the years. But with Formula One in some disarray, and with Fiat (read Ferrari) now part of the NASCAR world, through Chrysler, and with VW and even BMW perhaps interested in using NASCAR to help promote its car in the U.S. market, the time may be ripe for NASCAR executives to make a bold step forward.
   And Montreal would seem to be just the right place.

  Jacques Villeneuve: A Montreal favorite, and 1997 Formula One world driving champion. But has NASCAR marketed him to its full advantage for Sunday's race? (Photo: Toyota Motorsports)

   Canadians are already familiar with NASCAR. Ron Fellows has been a NASCAR fixture for years (now if stock car racing can just entice Paul Tracy to make the leap of faith). And Montreal is a world-class city, with European ties.
   The kicker: Formula One is set to return to Montreal in 2010 (as its only effective way to tap the American marketplace) at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the city-center course  that is just a subway ride away for most of the three million Quebecois, and that is the site of this weekend's NASCAR Nationwide event.
   What better opportunity for NASCAR, in 2010, to put its stuff -- star drivers, fan accessibility, marketing power, exciting racing -- on the course head-to-head with the F1 crowd.
   Mano a mano.
   In your face, Bernie.
   And let's just measure the impact of NASCAR versus Formula One.
   But F1 versus Nationwide, sorry, that's not the way to brand this battle.
   This has to be Cup. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, the whole enchilada. Not just Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Marcos Ambrose versus some road course ringers.

  Bet you can play more than just slots at the Casino de Montreal, here, right behind the race track (Photo: Autostock)

   Plus, NASCAR could use another road course, and this one could easily help  ticket sales just across the border at Watkins Glen, which the Frances own, and which has been a, well, rather mediocre draw over the years (in part because of lack of infrastructure).
   Of course NASCAR stock cars on road courses, well, Sonoma for example could use some tweaking to create more passing zones. And there are some NASCAR drivers (okay, maybe more than just a few) who don't like road courses. And maybe NASCAR racing at its finest is more an oval-track experience.
   But just suck it up and race.
   Montreal  should be a great venue for NASCAR, a classy stop on the tour.
   Ironically this season's NASCAR marketing efforts for Sunday's Montreal race have seemed pretty darned lethargic, to say the least.
   NASCAR, if it were serious about Montreal as a tour event, should have brought out the pom-poms and cheerleaders weeks ago, months ago.
   After all, Montreal is an excellent place not only for some global marketing but also for test-marketing (like Phoenix is). And with Montreal's varied cultural influences -- as a window on the rest of the world -- NASCAR's vaunted marketeers should be able to have some fun.
   Bottom line: NASCAR executives need to figure out what they really want to do with Montreal.
   Formula One already does.

  Fireworks closing out a NASCAR weekend in Montreal (Photo: Autostock)

I've got no problem with the

I've got no problem with the Cup series going to Canada, but why do we need another road course? When NASCAR goes to a road course, they start asking for modification after modification. These cars are just not meant for road racing. They're lumbering beasts. Road racing is about nimble handling. Stock cars are much more at home searching for a line on a big, wide oval or nudging each other through tight ovals.

There must be some nice oval somewhere in Canada where we could send the Cup series.

i think jeff gordon was once

i think jeff gordon was once thinking about an oval near buffalo or toronto. i agree stock cars aren't designed for road racing....but montreal is montreal, and that's what we've got. maybe we should redesign nascar stockers for road courses. remember those old LR cars bill france jr. was mulling over? nascar teams build special road racing cars anyway....

or maybe we should add a big,

or maybe we should add a big, banked sweeping corner, like old turn nine at riverside. asphalt and dirt are cheap.

As a Canadian Nascar fan I

As a Canadian Nascar fan I have travelled to Daytona, Bristol ,Martinsville, Dover, Charlotte, Darlington, Michigan, Pocono, and Watkins glen to attend races. I will NOT be traveling to Montreal for a race. I have to agree that Nascars are not designed for road racing though Watkins glen was quite enjoyable. Part of what made the Glen fun was camping on track , but where is the camping at Montreal? As far as Canada being a hotbed of Nascar fans, ask any you meet where in Canada they are from. Southern Ontario IS the hotbed you speak of. I also read with interest of Jeff being involved in Niagara Falls area track and have been wondering what happened with that? The proposed site near Niagara would have been a great place to build a Bristol clone and have a traditional Nascar week with camping and all. You are impressed by 3 million fans a subway ride away? Who rides a subway to a nascar event? There are 7-9 million people within 200 miles of Niagara Falls. Montrealers associate themselves with Europe while the rest of Canada feels closer to and simmilates better with Americans. Wake up Nascar if you want to run a successful race in Canada ask a Canadian where a race should be held.

good points....but like mike

good points....but like mike helton likes to say, it is what it is: we have to make do with what we've got. Nascar looked at toronto (certainly logical, with ron fellows), but mosport is an hour away, and it's a road course too. montreal as a nascar venue is about 'optics,' visibility, marketing....not necessarily about just the racing. it might be nice if somewhere in the san francisco area we had another bristol, but the best we can do right now (with california's strict laws) is what we've got in that market, which is sonoma. nascar, as an entertainment company, has two jobs: good entertainment, of course, and strong promotion and marketing behind that -- and do to marketing and promotion today, especially with something like racing, is a tricky business, because nascar has to appeal both to the aficianados and long-time fans (which it hasn't done a great job of lately, particularly with the highly disliked car-of-tomorrow)and to new demographics (see my story http://bit.ly/gO5TN ) too. i agree wholeheartedly that camping is key to watkins glen, indeed key to a lot of nascar venues (perhaps problems with camping at fontana are one reason for that track's lack of success); i have not studied nascar-camping much lately (though i remember a rather wild weekend spent somewhere just outside the first turn at talladega, where the scene was a cross between dante's inferno and the legendary burning man). the idea of building a new race track would seem to make sense, except that the staten island venture blew up badly, and the seattle venture went absolutely nowhere (i think vancouver would be the logical place for NASCAR's Northwest tour outpost), and even Bruton Smith has to deal with such California issues as the red-haired frog (or whatever that endangered thing was) and can't get much done there. soooo the solution IMHO is to first fix the tracks -- make some more passing zones on these road courses, like by widening the entry and exits to the turns, maybe use some concrete (a la martinsville), and add some banking in spots, and wider corners, like turn nine at riverside. the real problem i worry about with montreal is that, like many nascar venues, the hotels jack up the rates when nascar comes to town. Nascar needs to work on the politics of fixing that issue, and not just at montreal.
and of course i'm worried that nascar will let the montreal venture fade away just like it let mexico city vanish. nascar had a good game plan for mexico city and mexico, but what's going on down there now? sometimes nascar execs seem to have a 'fear of failure,' worried about 'a bridge too far.' the basic issues are good entertainment, strong promotion, and good corporate marketing plans.

I agree, also as Canadian

I agree, also as Canadian long time Racing fan. I have attended cup, Busch (Nationwide), and Truck races at many tracks in the USA, Darlington and Charlotte being my favourites. I have come to find that the race is only part of the whole Racing experience. It's the time in the campground swapping stories with fellow fans, drinking some brown pops and cooking up food. Can't forget the entertainment and visiting the many vendors off site for the total package. I as well would not visit Montreal for a race as this venue has none of this to offer. It would just take me a little longer to drive to Charlotte than Montreal. There is no comparison. Don't bring a watered down experience to Canada, we can go to it where it has been perfected already.

what part of canada?

what part of canada?

What long time town and

What long time town and ticketholder who helped build the sport and make almost everyone in Na$car rich do you want to screw over to move a race to Canada. Personally I'm tired of getting my seats taken away from me to go to some other place If it happens again I'm done I had tickets to both races at N Wilkesboro and one for the fall race at the Rock but I guess some frenchy is better than me.

i still think rockingham

i still think rockingham would work great as a one-day quickie show; i've been following andy hillenburg's work there. just went by north wilkesboro speedway the other day, on the way back from bristol....it's a sad situation.
i'm not saying take a race away from any place to put a cup date at montreal; we've already got the weekend hole in the calender, so why not fill it with a cup event instead of nationwide? heck, most drivers are racing somewhere around the country this weekend anyway....what montreal would offer would be a plus for corporate sponsors -- we need more sponsors with international marketing.....

Rockingham is a dead

Rockingham is a dead demographic. It's time people forget about Rockingham and accept it had to go.

Montreal offers nothing to sponsors or anyone else. It's not that big a NASCAR demographic and international marketing is oversold. Winston Cup belongs on American superspeedways, not a road course in Canada.

As a longtime Canadian Nascar

As a longtime Canadian Nascar fan we have attended races in Daytona, Darlington, Charlotte, Bristol, Martinsville, Dover, Pocono, Watkins Glen, and Michigan. We will not be attending a race in Montreal. We would dearly love to see Nascar Cup series in Canada. We believe Nascar made a huge mistake going to Montreal in the first place. 3 million fans a subway ride away? Nascar fans don't travel to the race by subway, they camp usually on track. Where is the camping on isle notre dame? Canada is a hotbed for nascar? I've met many Canadians at Nascar races, none from Quebec. Southern Ontario IS the hotbed you speak of. There is even a nascar themed restaurant/bar east of Toronto where Nascar has not visited for decades. I would like to see a Bristol clone built on the site Jeff Gordon had an interest in, located near Niagara Falls within 200 miles of some 9 million people and with ample camping space and english speaking hosts The real roots of Nascar in Canada are in S. Ontario and that is where Nascar should be looking. Nascar fans don't want to ride a subway to the race and trade their turkey legs for frog legs

I'm sorry, I just can't agree

I'm sorry, I just can't agree with you on this one Mike, at least not utilizing the current road course circuit without modifications. Yesterday's race was a "throwaway" if you wanted to use it as a benchmark. Yes, the fans were there, and they were enthusiastic, but the rain prohibited anyone from judging the event fairly.

There was way too much carnage, limited passing opportunities, and the slow turns are WAY TOO SLOW for NASCAR race cars. There's no elevation to the track (as it is right on the water), and the track is too narrow in too many places for stock cars to ever put on a quality race.

Now, with all of that being said, Canada remains a decent marketing opportunity for NASCAR, and I only say 'decent'. I don't believe it is a "must have" opportunity. And after reading some comments from another poster above (and having worked on several projects in Quebec and Ontario), I can't agree more that Montreal is way more "French" than Toronto, and that the Toronto market area is a better fit for NASCAR.

But, at the end of the day, I think it still comes down to a suitable track, and I don't think that the Montreal road course cuts it (although it is a good course for other types of racing).

Sure would be nice to get an event in up there without rain though, to serve as a better gauge of the real market potential.

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