Indy car racing threatens to pull out of Canada

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OTTAWA, Ontario -- Indy car racing will pull its two events out of Canada unless the Canadian government loosens its proposed ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship.

Canadian Indy race marketer Molstar Sports and Entertainment - owned by brewer Molson - confirmed Indy's sanctioning body "will not come to race in Canada" under the sweeping law, known as Bill C-71.

New restrictions "create an unlevel playing field because the (Indy) series will be able to operate in other countries unfettered," Molstar president Brent Scrimshaw told a Senate committee on Thursday.

Tobacco companies are major sponsors of drivers and teams on the Indy circuit, which in Canada has events in Vancouver and Toronto.

If approved by the Senate, the law would effectively ban tobacco logos and brand elements from Canadian motorsport, sports and cultural events, the latter of which rely heavily on tobacco sponsorships.

Instead Molstar - an arm of Molson Breweries that markets the Canadian races as the Molson Indy - wants the Senate to exempt international racing series such as Indy, allowing logos on cars, equipment and team clothing. "We're prepared to live with all other restrictions," Scrimshaw told the committee studying the bill.

Canada's Senate could vote on the bill as early as mid-April and add revisions that would send the law back to Parliament for more consideration.

Copyright April 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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