IndyCar returning to Road America (8th Update)
UPDATE #8 There has been some question about how many years the Road America/IndyCar deal is for. It was a 3-year deal through 2018 and they have begun negotiations to extend it even though attendance dropped this year over last. The race is expected to keep its date of the last weekend in June. Next year the race will run on June 25th.
|The attendance this year was good, but down from 2016|
08/08/15 This rumor is finally upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
08/08/15 IndyCar drivers and fans who have clamored for years for a race at Road America will be rewarded for their patience in 2016.
The sanctioning body and racetrack are expected to announce Saturday they have reached an agreement for a race next June 26.
Road America hosted the defunct CART and Champ Car series from 1982-2007 but has not held a race for the merged Indy-car series.
The rolling 4-mile track in Elkhart Lake is a favorite of competitors, and the sanctioning body and racetrack have tried for years to agree on an event, but for a variety of reasons track management has said it has not been able to secure a deal that made business sense.
The effect of a race at Road America on the Milwaukee Mile is unclear.
Road America President George Bruggenthies and Mark Miles, CEO for IndyCar parent company Hulman & Company, have said events at the two tracks are not mutually exclusive. But officials of Andretti Sports Marketing, promoter for the IndyCar race at the Mile the past three years, were noncommittal regarding 2016 after the race in June. An Andretti official did not return a message this week.
The June date would make IndyCar the top draw on a weekend that includes Pirelli World Challenge.
"I am really excited to see Road America back on the 2016 IndyCar schedule," Sebastien Bourdais, who won at the Mile in June and was a Champ Car winner at Road America in 2007, said Friday. "This place allows our cars to stretch their legs fully and show what an IndyCar is all about." JSOnline.com
08/03/15 AR1 is hearing that Elkhart Lake is almost certain to happen next year the last week of June in conjunction with the Pirelli World Challenge weekend. Look for this rumor to go to 'fact' soon.
06/29/15 Road America officials could find out this week if the picturesque course is part of the Verizon IndyCar Series' 2016 schedule, track president George Bruggenthies said Sunday.
Road America, a stop on the defunct CART and Champ Car series, has been in the discussion for an IndyCar race for the better part of a decade. Although the track is popular among competitors, business factors have kept that from happening.
"We'll see if they ever make up their mind," Bruggenthies said near the end of his World Challenge weekend.
"We had reached an agreement on a date and time, and we'll see what happened. It's with the committee, which failed to meet Wednesday, so then they were supposed to meet at Fontana (Calif.).
"I need to know. I'll put my schedule together in the next week. I've got an idea, but we will keep going. I'm not waiting for them."
IndyCar's race Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana was poorly attended, and Milwaukee - where the series races in two weeks - hasn't performed up to hopes since Michael Andretti took over promotion rights three years ago. Although IndyCar needs oval tracks, the future of both of those races is in doubt.
Bruggenthies said the futures of Road America and the Milwaukee Mile weren't necessarily connected. World Challenge could run as a headliner again if IndyCar doesn't come.
Whatever happens is fine with James Davison, a two-time Indianapolis 500 starter and the winner of the World Challenge GT race on Sunday.
"No doubt it's an advantage to be teaming up with IndyCar and capitalizing on their race-day audience and so on, but I just think we're fortunate to race at Road America," Davison said. "IndyCar doesn't, for example, and we do, and it's one of the best road courses in North America.
"So if we have to race here by ourselves with a little less of a crowd, well, that's a trade-off I'm happy to make." JSOnline
|If IndyCar returns to Road America it won't be the same as when CART IndyCar engines used to scream at 15,000 RPM and the sound would echo off the trees and knock your socks off. Today's quiet boring engines will put the chipmunks to sleep. And IndyCar wonders why they are losing fans! That's it right there. Period.|
According to this racer.com article, Road America president George Bruggenthies confirmed that he's been in discussion with Derrick Walker and is hopeful of bringing back open-wheel after a nine-year absence.
"I've talked with Derrick about a potential date for IndyCar next year and we're trying to work something out," said Bruggenthies on Tuesday afternoon. "It's not a done deal but I know our fans want to see IndyCar return and I'd love to see how that new car ran around here.
"We're hopeful we can get something done shortly because I'd like to have my schedule finalized by the end of this month."
Walker admitted Road America was on the radar.
"It's never been off our radar and it's one of several places we are seriously looking at for next year," said IndyCar's president of competition and operations. "It's just a matter of finding the right time to sit down and talk through the possibilities to see if it could happen but George is definitely interested."
|Will IndyCar return to Road America where CART once saw big crowds?|
Here’s what the principals had to say about IndyCar’s change in approach to Road America as it concentrates on rebuilding the event at the Milwaukee Mile.
(Andretti’s group is promoting Milwaukee IndyFest June 15-16. Bruggenthies is the president at Road America, the Elkhart Lake, Wis., road course that had had numerous discussions with IndyCar about a race.)
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard:
“I get a lot of questions, When are you going back to Elkhart Lake? I think we owe it to Michael Andretti who is laying out a lot of money to make that event successful. He has asked us not to rush Road America right now, let me try to succeed here. He's all for it. He loves Road America.
“But I think we have a responsibility to try to help Milwaukee every way we can, and we are. We put a lot of money into this, too. I think it's important for us to keep the Milwaukee Mile on our race series.
“If we could do something there and have the support of Andretti, we would. Let's look and see how well the Milwaukee Mile does this year. That's where our emphasis is right now, our concentration is. Let's make the Milwaukee Mile what the Milwaukee Mile was all about. Here is a track that was built in 1903. Oldest track in America. I for damn sure didn't want to see that track die on my clock. I wanted to make sure we did everything we can to keep that race going. I feel like if we let it go this time, it becomes a mothball. It dries up.
We have to do everything we can to make sure we're trying to keep that race on our series. It's too important to us.”
“We definitely had some concerns about it when he was talking about it. We were just going to support him on whatever he did. But I think it’s important for us to have a good event in Milwaukee, and at this time, I don’t know, it might be too fragile to do two up in the same market. Maybe a couple years from now, it’ll be a little different.
“I love Elkhart Lake. If it came about, we’d do whatever we can to help each other out. We’d work together. Would it be healthy for Milwaukee right now? I don’t know. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt it. But maybe it would. I don’t know. Hard to say.
“We’re holding our breath. We’re doing everything the experts told us to do. It’s scary because they say Milwaukee is a late-buying event. They’re saying do not advertise until three weeks out; and that’s when it really flips on. They’re like, ‘We’re telling you it’s going to happen that way.’ So we’re going with it. We’ll see. We’re biting our nails.
“We’re doing everything we can. It’s going to be a cool event. Once, I think, we get the person there, they’re going to be like, ‘Oh, this is cool.’ And then I think it’ll be easier to get more back next year because I think they’ll see it. It’s hard to explain to them what we really are trying to do until they actually see it. But it’s going to be pretty cool. The infield is going to be like nothing you’ve seen ever. Our goal is to have it jam-packed and just something for everybody. The snake pit. The fan zones. The amusement park stuff. It’s going to be cool. I think. We’re trying.”
“I certainly understand that they need to focus on giving the Mile the opportunity to be successful. Of course they want to spin it that way. I understand that and I support that. That’s fine. I wouldn’t want to talk about another (potential) event when you want to talk about the events that are coming up. They’re a partner in that event, no doubt. So of course they want it to work. Plus it’s the oldest racetrack around. It’s actually a good track. We both know that. It’s just lacked a promoter. Can this promoter get the fans out? I don’t know. It remains to be seen.
“I met with Randy (Bernard, IndyCar CEO) when I was at Long Beach in April. That’s not that long ago. We had the same conversation. He has to see how the Mile happens. He’s got to give it a chance. It doesn’t exclude us from the ’13 schedule by any means. And he’s got to support this event. Otherwise why would it be on the schedule?
“You know my viewpoint. I’m not afraid of two events in Wisconsin. I think that events promote awareness, create awareness and develop fans. That’s what the series needs. They’ve had their challenges with the new car initially, and now they’ve got some engine challenges, but its’ in the news, so people are excited. There was a good crowd at Long Beach, and we like that. I hope it’s successful.
“We’re doing just fine here up in little Elkhart Lake.” JSOnline
02/27/12 Rumor has it that we should look for the date of the race in China to change in 2013 so that Road American can get the only good open weekend that they have free to host IndyCar. This year there was talk of IndyCar teaming up with ALMS at Road America, but IndyCar had already committed to Qingdao, China for that weekend to coincide with the big Qingdao Beer festival. Qingdao is the beer capital of China.
02/26/12 In a Q & A session with Racer Magazine new IndyCar Director of Competition Beaux Barfield said that both Road America and Road Atlanta are being discussed as possible future IndyCar races.
Q. Will IndyCar ever run at places like Road Atlanta or Road America?
A. Honestly, those are two venues that have specifically been mentioned since I've been in the IndyCar offices over the last two months. I think Road America is on everyone's wish list among teams, drivers and the personnel in the IndyCar office. Road Atlanta would probably require a little more cooperation and coordination from different entities than Road America would, but certainly they are both venues that could be seen on the IndyCar calendar in years to come.