Sao Paulo mayor is biggest promoter of event
São Paulo Mayor Gilberto Kassab is comfortable with multimedia members following him as he strolls through the Anhembi Sambodromo section of the racetrack that will play host to the season-opening IZOD IndyCar Series race.
He's only too happy to show off the facility that's been constructed in two months (the first form of the concrete barriers cast Jan. 15), to discuss the sense of pride felt by residents of South America's largest city in hosting the IZOD IndyCar Series and its seven Brazilian drivers, and to promote the city as a tourist destination.
"For the city, it is a privilege to hold the race here and we hope this is the first of many years that IndyCars come to São Paulo," Kassab said. "There is great satisfaction having this partnership (with the sanctioning Indy Racing League). There is wonderful public spirit for the race and pride for the country and São Paulo.
"There has been much dedication to building this racing facility and all the organizations should be congratulated. We trust this stage will be astonishing. There are huge expectations from the drivers, either Brazilian or foreigners. I would like to thank all the supporters, all the partners that are making this race possible."
Kassab said that the São Paulo Indy 300 will generate about R$ 100 million to the city's economy in its first year. Suites are sold out and general ticket sales aren't far behind. The city will receive additional promotion via the international TV broadcast.
"Great events are very good for our city," he said. "We are going to generate jobs and income. The event generates full occupation of our hotels, moves our restaurants and businesses."
Terry Angstadt, president of the Indy Racing League's commercial division, said that choosing São Paulo as the host of the first Brazilian/South American event in league history was a consequence of the city's attributes.
"The city of São Paulo is Brazil's financial heart," said Angstadt, who presented the mayor an IZOD Indy garment bag filled with Philips-Van Heusen apparel. "I have always believed in the city and in the project. Our expectations are very high for a great event. This race course is beautiful, it's in a perfect setting, the race will be very competitive, our top Brazilian drivers are looking forward to one of them hoisting the trophy, so we could not be more exiting to start our season here."
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard will attend the race along with Scott Miller, CEO of Indianapolis Economic Development Inc., and Michael Young, its energy director. They are in Brazil for a trade mission.