EDMONTON, Alberta -- Cheered on in the closing laps of a duel with Takuma Sato on the City Centre Airport circuit, Helio Castroneves repaid boisterous -- and somewhat startled -- spectators with a victory fence climb in Turn 1.
He continued to heap praise on the fans in Victory Circle, thanking the tens of thousands who attended the eighth Edmonton Indy. Francois Dumontier, president and CEO of race promoter Octane Motorsports Events, stood in the wings, taking in the scene.
The Montreal-based promoter said overall he was pleased with the attendance and the entertaining 75-lap race, but is seeking traction with the corporate community for 2013 (the final year of the Edmonton Indy's contract with the city and INDYCAR) and potentially beyond.
“Sunday's attendance has been good, but we remain convinced that this event, especially with the quality of the spectacle offered today (on the racetrack) should attract much more people over its three days," Dumontier said in a news release. "This is a major sporting event of international calibre, coming to Edmonton once a year, and not too many cities have the privilege to host an IZOD IndyCar Series race.
"To build a strong event, maintain the global visibility and the economic fallout for the host city, and ensure its continuity, the attendance is key, as is the business community joining as sponsors or corporate hospitality customers.”
Dumontier added he was encouraged by discussions with "key business peoples," who intimated they intend to get involved -- or more involved -- for 2013.
"I welcome any local initiative to firm up the relationship between the event and the community," he said. "Our role as promoters is to build an event that Edmontonians could be proud of, and create and environment where race fans and corporate customers can enjoy a great spectacle or do good business."
The event was temporarily in limbo in November 2010 following a $3 million breakdown in contract negotiations between Octane Racing, which took over promotion following the 2010 race, and the city. A three-year contract was signed in January 2011.
"This year again, everyone is telling us that we have delivered such an event," Dumontier added.
Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel, the grand marshal of the race July 22, and Alberta Premier Alison Redford have expressed support for the event. Tourism Minister Christine Cusanelli presented awards to podium finishers Castroneves, runner-up Sato and Will Power.
INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard said before the race that he'll meet with Octance officials soon to get their perspective on the event's long-term prospects.
“I think that Francois is a very good partner," Bernard said. "He saved this race. That’s important to make it clear. This race was going away and he stepped in and took it over when it was seriously struggling financially. I think he has done some great things in the last two years.”