MIS says they’re fed up with the IRL MIS and the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series, will part ways following the Michigan Indy 400 on Aug. 5, MIS President Roger Curtis said Monday.
The breaking point in negotiations came when the IRL was unwilling to provide MIS with an acceptable race date for 2008, Curtis said. MIS wanted a race date in July, while the IRL gave Michigan a take-it-or-leave-it date of Aug. 3 for next year.
No deal, said Curtis.
Curtis said that it is not feasible to host an IRL race two weeks before the speedway's marquee NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race in August. MIS is hosting the IRL event two weeks before NASCAR this season, but Curtis said he had a verbal agreement with the IRL that the 2007 arrangement would be a one-year deal.
Curtis made no bones about whom he feels is to blame for the breakup.
"If this is burning a bridge, they burnt it," Curtis said. "They put us in this position. We physically cannot do the IRL event justice two weeks before our NASCAR race.
"It's like Indianapolis hosting the Super Bowl and then being told that two weeks before they need to do a whiz-bang job of promoting the East-West Shrine Game. What do you think the Hoosier Dome folks would say? That's the same thing they did to us."
The IRL received notice of the end of its relationship with MIS in a press release Monday, according to John Griffin, vice president of public relations with the Indianapolis-based series.
"It's disappointing," Griffin said. "We were caught a little off-guard by their press release. We were at an impasse, but we were still hopeful of working through some stuff. I think at the end of the day, the issue was finding a date."
Curtis said that the IRL was unwilling to budge on the date.
"Just the last two or three weeks, we went back to them with at least three options for other dates," Curtis said. "Then, believe it or not -- we're still that loyal -- we went back and said, 'We'll try and make August work, but these are things we need from you, because you're setting us up for failure on that weekend.'
"We listed some things we wanted, and as late as Saturday afternoon, I got a phone call from them that said, 'Nope, nope, nope, nope,' right down the entire list."
The Michigan open-wheel racing market will be served in 2008 by a race on Belle Isle in Detroit in an event being promoted by Roger Penske, who orchestrated the city's Super Bowl XL effort in February 2006. The IRL will run its debut race on the road course at Belle Isle on Sept. 2.
"It's just very frustrating because we didn't want to see the IRL go away," Curtis said. "But we were put in a situation where there was no chance for us to be remotely successful two weeks out from our (Nextel) Cup race and 30 days away from the IRL's new race on Belle Isle."
Curtis said the IRL's actions are par for the course.
"That's their [IRL] standard operating procedure: Put the promoter in a position where they can't be successful and then make the track and the promoter be the bad guys," Curtis said.
"I'm done with it." Jackson Citizen Patriot
[Editor's Note: Sounds like the IRL may have burnt their last bridge with ISC. With that said, history shows that ISC helped to kill off all their CART and IRL races with lack of promotion. Was it to drive a nail in open wheel racing's coffin? After all, with Cup, Busch, Trucks and Grand-Am, the France family has plenty of possible races for all their tracks - keep it all within their racing monopoly.]