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DATE News (chronologically)
02/10/12
irl
Milwaukee could return to IndyCar calendar UPDATE #7 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's news.

Is there any race promoter out there willing to lose millions so that a ten thousand IndyCar fans can watch another oval race at the Milwaukee Mile?
Chris Jones/IndyCar
02/02/12 With no more than five months left to pull together a race at the Milwaukee Mile, the deal remains at the "ideas" stage, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said Tuesday.

There is no point yet, he said, in discussing how the event might be promoted or whether IndyCar was looking beyond this summer.

Still, the series owes it to the track and fans to give racing here one more shot, and none of the apparent problems is a big enough hurdle to stop that from happening, Bernard said from his office in Indianapolis.

"As I've said before we'd love to have Milwaukee, but it'd have to make sense for a promoter to be able to go there," he said. "We're just trying to see if the opportunity exists, (and if so) we'd like to try to do it. But I don't think we're any further. Until we sign that dotted line, we're no further."

After a one-year hiatus, the IndyCar Series returned on Father's Day 2011, but the weekend suffered from organizational problems of a first-time promoter and the lack of a title sponsorship, and the crowd fell short of expectations.

Bernard had said in August that Milwaukee wasn't in the plans for 2012. Then shortly after a 15-race schedule was announced in December, State Fair Park confirmed discussions about a race in June had occurred.

Bernard characterized talk of a done deal or a nearly done deal as speculation. But he did defend the idea of coming back against a handful of possible pitfalls:

The time crunch to promote: "It's not that big a concern. Most of your fan base for any sport today will buy their ticket in the last 18 days."

A short time to procure sponsorship: "If you didn't have it by October, it's going to take relationships. Hopefully some sponsors will still have some money in their budgets to make this work."

The feeling that Milwaukee is just a choice made from desperation: "If we have to live with 15 events this year, we can live with 15 events. . . . And we think there's another opportunity, a minimum of one other racetrack that wants a race this year."

Fans and a business community wary after problems with previous promoters and the off-again, on-again talk about 2012: "I think anyone who went to the race last year saw a great race. Let's not forget, that's the whole premise of going there. . . . Nobody said this job was going to be easy and there are a lot of tough jobs. But if we have a good plan, if it makes sense for us to go there, we'll put our best foot forward again."

Rick Frenette, executive director for State Fair Park, characterized the chances of IndyCar coming back as "pretty positive" Tuesday and said "if there is something final, it'll be done in the next couple weeks, I'm sure.

"We hope that we can get it back and have a successful event, a little better than last year, and they will continue to come back. It gives the Milwaukee Mile some activity. There's not much else out there." JSOnline.com

01/31/12 IndyCar owes it to the fans to give racing at the Milwaukee Mile one more try, CEO Randy Bernard said Tuesday. Still, much has to happen for the series to come back after 2011 — a very good race with a smaller-than-expected crowd — and “right now, we’re not in any position to say if we are or not,” Bernard said.

“If we don’t do this,” he said, “the chances of that track becoming mothballed, I think, is a possibility.”

Bernard said in August that a return to the State Fair Park oval wasn’t in the plans, but shortly after the 2012 schedule was announced in December word spread that there was in fact interest. That was confirmed in early January.

There had been some talk that a deal was done or all but done.

“I’d love to have dollar for every time they speculate,” Bernard said. “I might be able to retire on it.” JSOnline

01/25/12 Hearing that Milwaukee will probably be a 1-day event with practice, qualifying and the race on Saturday June 16th - the day before Father's Day.

01/13/12 In his Q&A from Thursday, the Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin says, “At the moment, the ovals on IndyCar’s schedule are Indy, Texas, Iowa and California, although we’re hearing now that Milwaukee will happen.” He had had it at 50-50.

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard tweeted Friday morning: “@IndyCarINDY who would like to see Milwaukee on 2012 IZOD INDYCAR schedule?”

Which elicited positive responses from fans and drivers, including this one from Ryan Hunter-Reay: “Milwaukee Mile is IndyCar, let's do it!”

And, what I consider to be a great summary of the situation in 140 characters or less from Associated Press auto racing writer Jenna Fryer: “I don't know much about #IndyCar, but everyone seems to say "Milwaukee HAS to be on the schedule" and none of those people buy tickets.” JSOnline.com

01/10/12 A reader asks, Dear AR1.com, If Indy Car does race at the Mile this year why can’t they run on Saturday (Father’s Day Weekend) and make it a one day show? Of the many excuses for poor attendance last year Father’s Day was one of them. Why not avoid the conflict? I understand Indy Car has a tight schedule in June but they would qualify on Saturday anyway so why not race too? Name Withheld

Given they are talking about doing it on Father's Day weekend, we like the idea.  They should practice on Friday and qualify and race on Saturday to avoid Father's Day on Sunday.  It also makes Sunday the rain date should it be needed.  It also makes Saturday a full schedule and reduces the gaps in the day's schedule that fans don't experience on road and street circuits. Something is always going on.  Mark C.

01/06/12 IndyCar has inquired about the availability of the Milwaukee Mile for a race this June, State Fair Park has confirmed.

The Indianapolis Star called it a 50-50 proposition.

The series' schedule has events on the first, second and fourth weekends of June (Detroit, Texas and Iowa in that order), meaning that if it were to return to the Mile in June it'd almost certainly be on Father's Day weekend again. 

That would be the same as 2011. The date was one factor some people pointed to -- along with an inexperienced promoter group, logistical mistakes, lack of a title sponsor and rain on race morning -- in explaining a sparse crowd.

Turnout was an embarrassment to IndyCar, and the new race organizing group, AB Promotions, took a mid-six- to low-seven-figure financial hit.

AB is not involved in the possible 2012 event but another outside promoter -- not IndyCar or State Fair Park -- would be, a representative of the facility said.

IndyCar raced at the Mile from 2004 through '09. It did not in 2010 after the not getting paid by the promoter and not being able to put together a deal with another promotional group.

IndyCar presumably would not have an interest in returning if it had more ovals -- or even more racetracks -- on its schedule. The only ovals on the 15-race schedule announced last month are Indianapolis, Texas, Iowa and Auto Club Speedway (Fontana, Calif.).

Tracks on the 2011 schedule but not on 2012 include New Hampshire and Milwaukee, two 1-mile ovals, and Kentucky and Las Vegas, two 1.5-mile superspeedways. IndyCar also was supposed to have used the oval at Motegi in its final trip to Japan but ended up on the road course after earthquakes ravaged the country.

The series' title sponsorship deal with IZOD reportedly calls for a minimum of 16 races.

IndyCar had talked with Road America about racing at the 4-mile course in Elkhart Lake, but the two sides couldn't find a mutually agreeable date. Track president George Bruggenthies wanted to combine IndyCar with Road America's American Le Mans Series weekend in August, but that's the date of IndyCar's first venture into China. JSOnline

01/06/12 Randy Bernard said a return to the Milwaukee Mile still remains possible for June 17. If Milwaukee happens on that date, IndyCar would endure its longest stretch of races in history. After two-plus weeks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there would be the return to Detroit's Belle Isle circuit (June 3) and trips to Texas Motor Speedway (June 9), Milwaukee and Iowa Speedway (June 23). Indy Star
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