CART re-names race 'The American Memorial'

The German 500 is off and The American Memorial is on.

Knowing its decision to race on Saturday may be criticized, CART has renamed the event, the first in Europe for the American-based open-wheel racing series.

The move by German promoter Hans Joerg Fischer and CART may help hold off criticism in the United States.

CART had already scheduled several memorial events and plans a religious service prior to Saturday's start.

"The renaming of the race, coupled with the variety of pre-race activities we announced yesterday (Thursday) will offer the proper respect in the situation," CART chairman Joe Heitzler said.

CART vice-president Ronald Richards said the decision to hold the race with 70,000 fans expected was made before the NFL elected to cancel its weekend schedule.

Other sporting bodies quickly fell into line following terrorist attacks in the United States.

"We wish that we would have had the input regarding the NFL's decision prior to making our decision," Richards said, noting the six-hour time difference from New York.

"We wanted to have a full amount of feedback on what everybody was doing. Unfortunately, because of the timing it didn't work out for us.

"We just want to have as much information as we can before we make a decision. It wouldn't necessarily have changed the decision."

Richards and Heitzler said Saturday's race would he held "with the utmost dignity" with numerous memorials planned.

"It's important that we exhibit the proper respect in this situation and that doesn't change from being in the States or being over here," Richards said. "The circumstances for us were different because we were here, the equipment was here, our people didn't have to travel.

"That wasn't the case with people back home."

The race had been scheduled to be shown in the United States on ESPN.

But ESPN president George Bodenheimer said the network is postponing its broadcast until Monday "out of respect for the victims of Tuesday's tragedies and their families and friends."

Richards said FedEx, CART's main sponsor, stopped all its national TV advertising because of the attacks.

He said that included Saturday's race.

There was also news on the track as two days of rain stopped to allow a two-hour practice.

Tony Kanaan of Mo Nunn Racing posted a best lap at an average speed of 210.340 m.p.h. followed by teammate Alex Zanardi at 208.134 and Canadian Patrick Carpentier at 206.540 on the two-mile oval at the EuroSpeedway.

By Stephen Wade