MIS chief Roger Curtis miffed by IndyCar snub
Michigan International Speedway president Roger Curtis said he would still welcome open-wheel racing back at his track one day, but he described the handling of the recent on-and-off interest shown by the IZOD IndyCar Series in returning to the Irish Hills as "junior high school stuff."
Curtis said Monday evening he was puzzled by IndyCar's announcement earlier in the day that it would stay with 15 races this season, ending speculation of an additional event being held at MIS in September following the cancelation of the race in China, which had been scheduled for Aug. 19.
At the NASCAR race weekend at MIS just over a week ago, Curtis confirmed that IndyCar officials and he were discussing a race at Michigan, although a mutually agreeable financial package had not been worked out.
"I'm dumbfounded -- it's almost surreal," said Curtis of IndyCar's announcement Monday, which came from series CEO Randy Bernard. "We talked with them over the winter, and I told them we were interested in having open-wheel back. Randy (Bernard) then says at the Indianapolis 500, he's not interested in adding another high-speed oval. But during the NASCAR event here, he tells everyone MIS is interested in a September race.
"I'm still yet to talk to Randy, but I spoke with his general counsel during the Sprint Cup event and asked him to give me a couple days off and that I would talk to them again in a week and a half. They put a deal on the table. They knew I was going to call this week."
In his statement, Bernard said in part: "After carefully considering all possible options for an additional race, we felt it was in our best interest to keep our schedule at its current 15-event level. We want to make sure when we add events to our roster, they have long-term potential and are given every opportunity to be successfully promoted. The more we explored, the more we felt like we were rushing what could be good, long-lasting opportunities for the sport."
Responded Curtis: "I can't figure him (Bernard) out. God bless open-wheel racing and the drivers and teams. I'm a huge open-wheel fan. MIS will always remain interested in having an open-wheel race. It is part of our history. But I don't get Randy's logic. I just don't think they have their sea legs now."
IndyCar last raced at MIS in 2007, when it also had a race at Belle Isle. Detroit Free Press