Edmonton Indy will not return in 2013

The IndyCars will not return to Edmonton in 2013. PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Firestone Racing

After an eight-year run, open-wheel racing in Edmonton, Alberta is coming to an end.

On Friday afternoon, INDYCAR announced that the Edmonton Indy would not be on the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule, which is set to emerge early next month.

INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard has been striving to hit a 19-race schedule for next season and said in a series statement that the loss of Edmonton would not deter those ambitions.

“When we finalized our schedule for the upcoming 2013 season, it unfortunately did not include Edmonton,” Bernard said. “We thank the city of Edmonton and all the fans for their support of the event over the last eight years.

“More importantly, this has not affected our plans for a minimum of 19 races next season, and we remain optimistic that we will return to having two races in Canada as early as 2014.”

The Edmonton Journal is reporting that promoter Octane Motorsports has not only given up their option to stage a third race on its three-year deal with INDYCAR, but has also filed a bankruptcy notice in the Superior Court of Quebec.

In 2011, Octane saved the race from going away after a financially disastrous three-year run with former promoter Northlands. But despite Octane’s expertise in running races — the Montreal-based entity stages Formula One’s Canadian Grand Prix and the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ NAPA Auto Parts 200, both run at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve — the Edmonton race never got a critical title sponsor during the Octane era.

Indeed, one could argue that the Edmonton race never got the big support it needed from the city’s corporate community. Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun believes that it was Octane itself that was the main reason why; I’ll let you decide for yourself if he is correct in that regard.

Champ Car staged the first three events of the Edmonton Indy before INDYCAR/Indy Racing League took it over in 2008. With the dawn of the Octane era in 2011 came a new layout at Edmonton’s City Center Airport that increased on-track action considerably.

But for some, the biggest reason why Edmonton’s legacy as an IndyCar outpost will be remembered may be Helio Castroneves’ outburst following the 2010 race after he was penalized late for blocking while leading.

Castroneves would eventually get his day in the Alberta sun this past summer, as he held off Takuma Sato for the win. And now, strangely enough, he appears to be the final winner in Edmonton Indy history.

I’m tempted to mutter some tidy cliche about how funny life is, but I doubt Canadian race fans are in a jovial mood at this moment. Thoughts go out to them, as well as the Edmonton Indy staff.