- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 8, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) — The nation's capital will not see — and importantly to nearby residents, not hear — the Washington Grand Prix this year, District of Columbia officials said Saturday.

The race that drew an estimated 70,000 spectators over three days last year, was scheduled to return in late June to its purpose-built racetrack in the parking lot of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.

"District residents are breathing a sign of relief and taking out their ear plugs," Chris Weiss, Director of the Friends of the Earth, said.

The race had been opposed by many of those who live closest to it in the Kingman Park area of Northeast Washington as well as by some environmental groups.

The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission Friday night announced that the North Carolina-based company promoting the event, National Grand Prix Holdings, had "repeatedly failed to meet commitments."

The Kingman Park Civic Association claimed credit for the cancelation. "Kingman Park and the residents of D.C. were successful in highlighting the misuse of $5.1 million in taxpayer money being spent on a car race that hurts the community and the environment," a former association president, Julius Lowery, said.

D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams had no immediate comment, but he has been a supporter of the event as an economic boost and tourist magnet credited with bringing $12 million in direct spending as well as international attention to the area.

The cancellation this year has brought concerns about the future of the Washington Grand Prix, currently under a 10-year contract between the city and American Le Mans.

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