Milwaukee Mile trying to rebuild its lost fan base
The pressure is on today at the Milwaukee Mile, and it weighs on more than just the Izod IndyCar Series drivers. Except for Indianapolis Motor Speedway, oval-track racing in this series is running at half speed. Only seven such venues are on the current schedule -- there are 10 events on road courses and street circuits -- and attendance concerns abound.
Texas Motor Speedway had one of its smaller IndyCar crowds last weekend, and officials here at Wisconsin State Fair Park face a tall task of rebuilding this event after all racing activities stopped last year.
The Indianapolis-based promoters of this event -- Avocado Motorsports Marketing and BMG Event Productions -- tried to boost interest in recent days by offering two-for-one tickets to some grandstand sections. Seating capacity is nearly 40,000.
A questionable weather forecast does not help matters.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard isn't sure what to expect.
"You have to set a foundation and build on it," he said. "This place has tradition and history, and if you asked any driver or participant, they'll tell you they love the place."
Still, past promoters have struggled to make ends meet at a facility that pre-dates IMS. The first race here was in 1903. IMS opened six years after that.
"I don't have the answer," Bernard said. "I wish I did."
As important is the television rating. IndyCar has seen improvement, particularly on ABC, the network which has this race.
Dario Franchitti is optimistic.
"I think we'll see some good attendance this year," he said after winning the pole for the Milwaukee 225. "I'd love to see a great (turnout) because this track is a wonderful place; we all enjoy coming here. It puts on a great race.
"It's one of those things where the fans show up and it's 'Wow!' Now we've just got to get them to come in the door to see a great race."
The Mile is IndyCar's flattest track, and the different speeds the cars run make for more traffic than usual. That, in turn, puts the outcome literally in the hands of the drivers. Indy Star