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The councilmember and others at the city are scrambling to put together a festival to coincide with the race so they can eliminate the impression that the Grand Prix is just a gimmick to attract elitist snobs. This attitude prevails among city residents who believe the race has been a dog. "Have you taken the patient off the respirator yet?" a physician chided Kennedy recently. The councilmember says he knows that Phoenicians will not get excited about a sport they are not involved in. The appearance of foreign guys with funny names doesn't help the public image.
"The drivers don't speak English. The average Phoenician doesn't understand any of it," Cluxton says. "They know NASCAR [stock car racing], they know Indy cars, but they've never seen Formula One."
The 1991 Iceberg Phoenix Grand Prix will be a circus of sorts if Kennedy is able to put together all the puzzle pieces. Parties, an international arts festival and other events under the Grand Prix umbrella are planned to attract a mixture of people. "A lot of people don't care about the race," Kennedy says. "It has to become a community event instead of one geared for aficionados." Other events in the planning stages are a cowboy film festival for the international crowd and performances from sister cities like the Taipei Symphony Orchestra from Taiwan, a musical event from Hemeji, Japan, and a ballet from Hermosillo, Mexico. Kennedy's also dreamed up a parade of storytellers including Eddie Lanahan, "a national Irish treasure," an African American, and a Native American.
"To put people on the stage," he's dreaming up on-track events such as a 10K run, bicycling events and maybe letting people inspect the pits. Kennedy sees the festival as appealing to both local and international fans. "If we bring people halfway across the world, we don't want to disappoint them," he says.
Under Kennedy's vision, the race might become an afterthought to the festival. Other F/1 experts don't think the race will be overshadowed by the party. As Cluxton puts it, "Phoenix is special. There's no other street race in the world other than Monaco.