Schedule to include race in Seoul

Updated: March 9, 2004, 1:23 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- The new owners of the former CART series will run a reduced 16-race schedule for this year, with two racing dates and sites still uncertain and a new event in South Korea.

The open-wheel series was 19 races last year, but one race was canceled at the end of a money-losing season that forced publicly traded CART into bankruptcy protection in December.

The new owners, a group of former CART team owners, said Tuesday they plan to bring the renamed Champ Car World Series to five countries and three continents this year.

The season opens April 18 at Long Beach, Calif., and finished on an unspecified date and location in November.

Indianapolis-based Champ Car, which has tried to firm up its schedule while emerging from bankruptcy and reorganizing, also is trying to finalize a date and race site between a Sept. 12 race at California's Laguna Seca and an Oct. 17 event in Seoul, South Korea.

The Korean race will be one of six street courses on the schedule. Champ Car plans seven road races and one oval course, the June 5 Milwaukee Mile.

Champ Car said last month that unresolved legal issues would prevent the series from returning this year to St. Petersburg, Fla., for what was to have been the season opener Feb. 22. A lawsuit filed by the race's former promoter is pending. The series has said a return to the city in 2005 is possible.

Races in England and Germany will also not return to the schedule.

Two races are again scheduled in Mexico -- May 23 in Monterey, and Nov. 7 in Mexico City. Last year in Mexico City, race-day attendance was more than 221,000 and a three-day weekend total was 402,000, both series records.

Champ Car intends to run at least 18 cars this season, with defending CART champion Paul Tracy returning. The series also plans rule changes to make racing safer and enhance competition.

CART broke away from the U.S. Auto Club in 1978 and sustained a major blow in 1996 with the emergence of the IRL, dividing a small base of fans and major sponsors. Both open-wheel series have faced dwindling attendance and TV ratings.

The IRL, which has most of the top teams and drivers in open-wheel racing, began its ninth season Feb. 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press