Overheard at Milwaukee - Saturday (China Replacement) UPDATE #4 As we predicted below on 6/20/12, IndyCar will not replace the cancelled China race with today's announcement.
06/23/12 Quotes from Road America president George Bruggenthies about IndyCar racing at the Elkhart Lake, Wis., track in August suggest the decision hinges on money (like AR1.com stated in the previous update to this rumor). Bruggenthies told the Associated Press’ Chris Jenkins that the two sides are six figures apart. Bruggenthies wants a decision by Sunday night.
“It’s still on the table,” Bruggenthies said. Then comes the key part. “It’s a long shot,” he said.
IndyCar is believed to be asking for upwards of $1 million from promoters. Several tracks have said no, including Texas Motor Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and, in a roundabout way, Watkins Glen International. Bruggenthies’ offer apparently was well short of IndyCar’s number, and it’s difficult to argue with that.
Less than two months remain before the Aug. 19 date IndyCar would race at Road America. Yes, the track has an audience somewhat in place with an American LeMans Series race on Saturday and a Corvette event on Sunday, but this isn’t the time to be shopping for a title sponsor and time is running out to promote and sell tickets.
Road America — or any other track — is dealing from a position of strength; it’s IndyCar that needs a race. Road America would like one, but it has to be at the right price. A better decision for Road America might be to work toward 2013, when IndyCar could pair with ALMS for a mid-August event. Think how great that would be.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard has stopped talking publicly about options for the China replacement, and that’s smart. Negotiating in public never is a good idea. Bruggenthies told the AP that Bernard has “other options.” Laguna Seca is probably one, maybe there are others. We’ll see if that’s true. Indy Star06/20/12 Adding the 16th IndyCar race is going to cost IndyCar money, regardless of where they race. And with IZOD rumored to be gone after this year (strong rumor and although not really his fault, a black mark for Randy Bernard because IZOD wanted that China race) there is no strong incentive to add the 16th race. Hence it is looking less likely by the day that IndyCar will add Elkhart Lake, Chicagoland or any other track to replace Qingdao. Although one would think Road America would be the least cost option since the circuit it already geared up for ALMS. In this speed.com article, Robin Miller lays out why Road America is the only sensible option.
06/18/12 The promoter of this weekend's Milwaukee IndyFest said IndyCar officials are free to negotiate with what should be its rival. That's a good sign for IndyCar as it pursues a critical 16th race in the aftermath of having the Aug. 19 street race in Qingdao, China, canceled. IndyCar must have 16 races to fulfill several contracts.
"They have a window to talk to (Road America)," said Michael Andretti, whose Indianapolis-based sports marketing company took on the struggling IndyCar race at the Milwaukee Mile. "I don't remember the details, but they can talk to them, and they should talk to them."
Road America is a permanent road course located in Elkhart Lake, Wis., 60 miles north of Milwaukee. It hosted IndyCar from 1982 to 2007; Andretti won three of those races.
Road America President George Bruggenthies attended Saturday's Milwaukee race, telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he's "a big IndyCar fan." IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard declined comment. Indy Star
If it’s up to the fans and most of the drivers who were at Wisconsin State Fair Park over the weekend, IndyCar’s 16th race will be up the road at Elkhart Lake.
``I got stopped every 10 feet on Friday and Saturday by people wanting to know if I knew where Road America was or if we were going to be there in August,’’ related IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard on Sunday afternoon.
``I told them I knew exactly where it was and that it was high on our list.’’
With China’s scheduled race on Aug. 17-19 being cancelled last week, Bernard is seeking a replacement and it would appear the picturesque road course in Wisconsin would be perfect.
There is already an ALMS race scheduled for Aug. 18 (Saturday) at Road America and that would leave Sunday open for Indy cars.
``It’s pretty late and we’ve already started selling tickets but we’re looking at it and I’ll be talking to Randy this week to see if we can work something out,’’ said George Bruggenthies, president and general manager of Road America.
``If we could do it, we would run Indy cars on Sunday.’’ Speed.com06/16/12 Attendance at Milwaukee for the race today is much better than last year, but there are still a lot of empty seats, but you must add in the 2,000 people who bought tickets to watch the race in the infield. Andretti promotions are happy with the turnout, so much so that......
Michael Andretti, President and CEO of Andretti Sports Marketing, today announced the Milwaukee IndyFest will return to the Milwaukee Mile in 2013. Andretti also announced that tickets for the 2013 race will go on sale Sunday. Milwaukee IndyFest is scheduled for Father's Day weekend, Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15, 2013. Andretti made the announcement prior to giving the command to start engines for Saturday's inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series Milwaukee IndyFest race.
Andretti Sports Marketing assumed promotion of the event in February, when the Milwaukee Mile was in danger of being removed from the IZOD IndyCar schedule. Andretti Sports Marketing has also taken over promotions and operations of the Grand Prix of Baltimore, which will take place in the streets of the Inner Harbor, Labor Day weekend, August 31 - September 2, 2012. The Grand Prix of Baltimore will feature many different race categories, headlined by the IZOD IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series. We also hear Andretti Sports Marketing is in the catbird seat if they want to assume promotion of the rumored Ft. Lauderdale, Florida race in 2013.
Andretti took a different approach to an oval event by incorporating a festival atmosphere with concerts, a family fun zone, Ferris wheel and fan village. It appeared to be a hit. "There was a huge crowd and long lines coming in," said Andretti.
Rumors are now circulating that the replacement for the cancelled China race will probably be Chicagoland with Road America also in the running. The latest we heard and announcement from Chicagoland will be made this week.
Justin Wilson explained why the drivers have not been running the low groove. "The asphalt down there has little grip," said Wilson. "However, in the race I think you will see drivers with their left side tires down on the new asphalt." Mark C. reporting from Milwaukee