CART boss says Nazareth could gain reprieve

CART CEO Joe Heitzler says that the lame-duck Nazareth Speedway event could remain on the 2002 Champ car schedule.

CART boss says Nazareth could gain reprieve

The Pennsylvania track was told in a letter last November that CART did not want to extend its contract. CART has raced at Nazareth since 1987.

"Nazareth is not dead for 2002," Heitzler said. "We are going to sit down and look at all the ways we can make this race bigger and better than it is. New York and Philadelphia are significantly large markets, and we have challenged the local government to get the economic data together."

The meetings are set to take place after CART returns from its race in Japan scheduled for May 19.

Nazareth Speedway general manager Craig Rust was cautiously optimistic that his track's tenure with CART could continue.

"There is a lot of emotion and we want the race back," Rust told the Allentown Morning Call newspaper. "But we have a letter that says we do not have a CART race for 2002. I don't want to get everyone's hopes up. There's a lot of positive talk and that's great. But CART might come back and ask for a sanctioning fee that we can't afford. We need more than words to make this happen."

Bobby Rahal was serving as the interim CEO of CART when the termination letter was sent to Nazareth Speedway.

"CART is out of the business of calling people and saying we are not coming somewhere," Heitzler said. "I wouldn't call the decision unfair, but it was handled unprofessionally."

Sunday's race crowd was estimated at 25,000, filling slightly more than half of Nazareth¹s 44,000 permanent seats.

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