IndyCar may add 2nd race in Iowa UPDATE #2 A dinner conversation between Iowa Speedway President Jerry Jauron and IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard two days before this year’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 raised a unique proposal for the Newton race facility — the potential for a doubleheader race weekend in coming seasons.
According to Jauron, the two groups are in early negotiations to have two separate 250-lap Indy races at the Speedway on a Saturday and Sunday. Both events would have separate qualifying sessions and both races would count toward a driver’s overall points total in the series.
“The event would be such a fast turn around and it’s never been done before, so the odds are probably against us,” Jauron said. “But eventually Randy would like to see it here in Newton. They brought the idea to us.”
The facility president says that he “does not want to put the cart before the horse,” but it’s a proposition he and others at the speedway are excited about. A decision for the 2012 season is expected by Aug. 15.
Currently discussing the proposed race weekend with team owners such as Roger Penske and Mario Andretti, Bernard is weighing the strain a doubleheader race would put on drivers and equipment. The Firestone Twin 275s, a similar event put on at the Texas Motor Speedway, takes one IndyCar race and splits it into two separate days, but Jauron says the Iowa Speedway doubleheader would actually be two separate races both contributing to points standings.
“The only thing we can do is contribute to our own destiny and put on good racing,” he said.
Another issue that could potentially park the two-day event is time constraint in the IndyCar schedule. A two- to three- week time period is needed for the racing series’ international races, which could make preparation for an extensive two-race weekend at the Iowa Speedway difficult, said Jauron.
“If we don’t see it in 2012 there is a possibility we could see it in 2013,” he said.
The Speedway recently signed a three-year contract extension with IndyCar solidifying the series presence in Newton for the foreseeable future. Newton Daily News06/28/11 Iowa Speedway draws one of the biggest, most loyal oval-track crowds on the IZOD INDYCAR series every year, not to mention hosting some of the best wheel-to-wheel racing of the season.
So INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard is taking a serious look at something special in 2012 – a Saturday night/Sunday afternoon doubleheader.
“It’s a sellout, the track does a helluva job promoting us in the Heartland and their fans really get it so why not go from 40,000 to 80,000?” said Bernard, who re-introduced doubleheaders earlier this month at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I talked with Jerry Jauron (Iowa Speedway track president) and he loved the idea and now I want to talk to our owners, partners and networks about it.”
Dismal attendance at Kansas, Chicagoland and Homestead caused Bernard to pull the plug on those ISC tracks and a return to Milwaukee two weeks ago was a box office disaster, with less than 15,000 people showing up.
INDYCAR returns to ovals at Loudon, N.H. and Las Vegas later this season, two places that struggled in the early IRL days.
Texas, always the largest draw outside Indy, had its worst crowd ever earlier this month and Bernard is considering multiple doubleheaders at tracks that want INDYCAR like Iowa.
“This could be a way we maintain our balance of oval and road races,” he said. “I think it’s certainly worth taking a look at – especially Iowa.” SPEEDTV.com06/26/11 The contract between the IndyCar Series and Iowa Speedway lapsed after Saturday night’s race, but track president Jerry Jauron said a three-year extension is in the works.
“We hope to announce shortly that IndyCar will be committed to racing here through 2014,” Jauron told the Des Moines Sunday Register after two days of discussions with IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. “I am extremely confident that the IndyCar Series is here to stay at Iowa Speedway. (A three-year deal) would reinforce the relationship between us and them, and secondly, it would mean we don’t have to do this every year.”
The longest previous agreement between the open-wheel circuit and the racetrack has been two years. Saturday’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 was the fifth to be run here. zzzz
“We’ve got the most loyal fans in North America, period. And I can say that proudly,” Jauron said. “Look at our parking lot right now; there was rain all morning, and it’s packed.”
Since the track has not built behemoth grandstands to support a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, the grandstands looked full and IndyCar did not come away look like losers with 30,000 people in a 100,000 person stadium. With great racing on the track and the stands full, Iowa is the best oval race on the IndyCar circuit outside of Indianapolis.
One intriguing notion raised by Bernard in a Saturday story in the Indianapolis Star is the possibility of bringing a doubleheader to an oval like Iowa Speedway. Weak attendance at last week’s stop in Milwaukee makes it likely that the track will be dropped next season, and Bernard likes to maintain the balance between ovals and non-ovals on the schedule.
In lieu of adding a new stop next year, Bernard has floated the idea of a Saturday night/Sunday afternoon double-dip at an existing location.
Jauron said that option hasn’t been raised yet with him. But ...
“We’d definitely take a look at it, and it would be a fun discussion,” he said.