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Indy or Laguna to lose MotoGP race to Austin GP track in 2013?UPDATE #6 Attendance for the weekend’s MotoGP event was a mixed bag for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Attendance for Sunday’s main event was 64,151, a slight improvement from last year’s 62,749, according to MotoGP officials. But the three-day total going through the turnstiles at the Speedway was 134,766, the lowest of the event’s four-year stint in Indianapolis. A total of 136,184 spectators attended all three days of action at the Speedway in 2010.
In 2009, attendance was 75,130 for Sunday's race and 146,680 for the entire event. The three-day total for the first event in 2008 set the high-water mark at 170,000, according to MotoGP officials.
IMS officials are still in negotiations with MotoGP to host the race next year. Speedway spokesman Doug Boles said an announcement will be made—one way or the other—in September.
“We’d certainly like to have it again,” Boles said. “We definitely think there’s a place for motorcycle racing at the Speedway.”
Speedway officials said they like the MotoGP race because it draws a different audience from the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400. If they can’t sign a deal with MotoGP, they said they will consider hosting a motorcycle race sanctioned by another series (read that the France Family owned AMA Series).
IMS President Jeff Belskus said there are some issues with the MotoGP race’s date in 2012. MotoGP officials, Belskus said, want the dates of the races at Indianapolis and Laguna Seca in California closer together so the teams can stay in the United States for the two races.
That might mean moving the Indianapolis race to early August, which could be difficult on the heels of the Brickyard 400 NASCAR race, which this year was held July 29. IBJ.com
08/28/11 Based on what we saw from Sunday's race, the attendance this year was dramatically lower than last year. Motorcycles simply do not 'fit' at Indy, we do not care what series it is, including AMA if they think they might replace MotoGP with AMA next year. If they renew the MotoGP contract we will be shocked.
08/28/11 Jeff Belskus, president and CEO of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said Friday that negotiations with Dorna Sports -- commercial rights holder for MotoGP -- are ongoing and he is "hopeful" of a deal. But he stopped short of saying it's a sure thing. No announcement is likely this weekend.
"I'm optimistic we'll have motorcycles back here next year," he said. "I hope it's MotoGP. We like this event and we hope to have them back. We thought we'd sell a few more tickets. Attendance has gone down each year, and soft sales are a challenge."
According to Dorna, the 2008 inaugural event had 91,064 tickets sold on race day and 174,052 for the weekend. That declined to 75,130/146,680 in '09 and 62,794/136,184 last year. Indy Star
Casey Stoner leading at Laguna Seca
Gill Campbell, CEO/general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, certainly has more than enough to keep her busy at her track, which is currently staging its biggest event of the year, the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.
At Saturday afternoon's qualifying session, tens of thousands of fans watched Jorge Lorenzo come back from a nasty morning spill to post the quickest time, while teammate Ben Spies was the fastest U.S. rider and will start fourth on the grid today.
In between the action spectators strolled around the grounds consuming everything from calamari to corn dogs, billed as "the cheapest snack on the track" at two for five dollars. If the weather holds Campbell expects more than 60,000 fans today and a healthy three-day weekend total close to 135,000.
Yet Campbell has been keeping a wary eye on events in Austin, where the Circuit of the Americas will stage its own MotoGP race in 2013.
"It's like any other business," Campbell said. "On one hand I welcome it. The awareness of the sport will be heightened."
On the other hand, she said, "It's yet to be seen what the economic impact will be."
She's all-too-well aware that MotoGP attendance at her track dropped 15 percent when Indianapolis began staging its race in 2008, a dip she attributes to some East Coast fans going to the Midwest — rather than all the way to Northern California — for their yearly MotoGP fix. According to Campbell about 70 percent of the fans here this weekend come from outside of California, a big reason she claims the economic impact of the event to the surrounding community is $100 million.
When it was announced in April that Austin was getting a MotoGP event, many assumed either Laguna Seca, or more likely the track in Indianapolis, would lose its big motorcycle race. Yet a spokesperson for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway recently told the American-Statesman that MotoGP was valued because it brought international travelers to the track and the city. The world championship series, the pinnacle of motorcycle racing, currently has 18 races in 13 countries, on four continents.
While Indianapolis' contract expires after the race next month, the track recently ground up and repaved 1.5 miles of track and received praise for the work from motorcycling's international ruling body. Laguna Seca's contract runs through 2014, which raises the question of whether three cities and circuits could be dividing up a financial pie that may only be big enough for two.
"We're all dipping into the same sponsors pool," said Campbell, who noted that might be more damaging than splitting the fan base.
Kevin Schwantz, a former motorcycling world champion and an investor in Circuit of the Americas, said, "I think in the right economic environment there's room for three, but I think there will be three events and then there will be two." The Statesman
05/18/11 Indy Speedway President Jeff Belskus is working on a contract extension with Dorna Sports, the commercial rights-holder to MotoGP, to keep the August motorcycle race in Indianapolis. Belskus did not characterize the discussions but acknowledged he wants motorcycles to continue racing at the 102-year-old track.
“We want motorcycles to race here,” Belskus said. “It's a good event for us and the city. If we can make a business deal that makes sense for both sides, then we'll do that.” Indy Star
04/12/11 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' with today's announcement that Austin is getting a MotoGP race. So will IMS now do the right thing if they lose their MotoGP race and replace it with an IndyCar race on the Indy road course? It would instantly be the 2nd biggest race on the IndyCar calendar.
04/07/11 If well-placed sources in Europe are correct, the MotoGP motorcycle world championship series will move its U.S. venue from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to the new Formula One track under construction in Austin, Texas, probably in 2013.
Formula One United States and Full Throttle Productions, which are building the Texas track, have scheduled a press conference for April 12, and it is possible they will announce the MotoGP deal then, likely along with a name for the new track. Tavo Hellmund, chairman of F1US and managing partner of Full Throttle, declined to comment when reached by AutoWeek on Wednesday night. AutoWeek
Editor's Note: We have always maintained that the cars that should be racing on the Indy road course are IndyCars. A 2nd IndyCar race at the Speedway in September would be a huge hit and a huge boost for IndyCar. With the Speedway losing their MotoGP race and with the September IndyCar race in Motegi going away after this year, now is the time for IndyCar and IMS to move forward and make this happen - an annual IndyCar race on Labor Day weekend on the Indy Road Course starting in 2013. As for Baltimore, the weather would be much more pleasant there in late September. Labor Day tends to be too hot and humid in Baltimore. Fan comfort is important.
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