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Race up in the air as CART gets sold

A Portland race June 18-20 in the new Champ Car World Series could be finalized in the next week.

Or, it could be scrapped altogether.

Either way, there is a strong possibility the rival Indy Racing League will be racing at Portland International Raceway in 2005.

A bankruptcy judge awarded Open Wheel Racing Series the assets from the Championship Auto Racing Teams for $3.2 million Wednesday, ending the IRL's bid to unify open-wheel racing.

CART will become the Champ Car World Series, and one of its principles, Paul Gentilozzi, promises at least 18 cars on the track this year, starting April 18 at Long Beach.

Gentilozzi insists that Portland pay a sanctioning fee, believed to be more than $1 million, or lose its date to another venue.

Portland promoter Mike Nealy of Global Events Group has yet to attract the sponsorships to cover the fee. The Open Wheel people may be willing to self-promote the event, Nealy says.

Mark Wigginton, PIR manager, says Nealy will tell him by Monday whether the Champ Car World Series will run in Portland this year.

IRL plans to add road races to its oval lineup in 2005. It has targeted Portland for a race, says Bob Ames, who helped bring CART to Portland in 1984 and now serves as an IRL liaison.

Because city leaders do not have a race contract with Open Wheel, they are free to work with IRL President Tony George.

'He's going road racing,' Ames says. 'He already has his venues picked out, and he's well down the road in planning it.'