They Take Ax to Italian Grand Prix

<i> Associated Press</i>

The Italian Grand Prix was canceled by international racing authorities on Friday after local officials refused to go along with safety demands by chopping down 123 trees.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said that it called off the Sept. 11 race at Monza because it could not get a guarantee that the major curve on the track would be altered to slow the cars.

The circuit is in a Milan park and the changes would have meant cutting centuries-old trees on a scale that outraged ecologists. Although a divided central government approved the work, local officials had the final say, and they refused.

In Rome, Gianni Letta, a Cabinet secretary appealing on behalf of premier Silvio Berlusconi, sought a compromise.


“The race must be run and must be run at Monza,” Letta said. He suggested that one or more curves could be added to slow the racers down before the dangerous tree-lined curve.

“Attempts are being made to find another venue,” said federation spokesman Martin Whitaker at the time trials of the Hungarian Grand Prix. He did not elaborate.

The safety-plagued season’s problems began at another Italian track, Imola, when three-time champion Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger were killed during the San Marino Grand Prix.