Overheard in Toronto - Sunday
Had some time with Randy Bernard on Sunday morning in Toronto and he updated us on a number of issues.
On the issue of IndyCar possibly signing a new TV deal with SportsNet in Canada - Yes they are talking to Rogers. It's not that they don't like TSN but they want more races on Terrestrial TV and all races live. "We have had some great meetings with Rogers."
On the issue of the 2013 Schedule - Goal is for 19 races and for it to be done by September 1st. He would not commit to the number of ovals - "We want ovals that can be financially successful. We do not want to walk away from an oval with a black eye. I think Gillian (Fontana Promoter) is doing some good things out in Fontana - we won't see 100,000 but I think it will be good"
On the issue of a third Canada race next year - I will never rule out a third race in Canada if it makes sense. We would consider Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa or any city that it makes sense.
On the Chicago Street Race rumor Referring to the cancelled Qingdao, China race in the 11th hour, "The one thing I learned about street races, even if you are in the final stage, if we don't have a signed contract with the money in the bank, there's nothing to talk about because a politician can come in at the last minute and mess it up. So there is nothing to talk about regarding a street race in Chicago. I won't even speculate, there's nothing there, I read what you read in the newspaper."
Is China dead forever? I would not say forever, but next time we have to have the money in the bank first.
On the possibility of a twin bill with ALMS next year at Road America - "No quite honestly. We made a commitment to Michael Andretti and his team to grow the Milwaukee race first and we are sticking to that commitment. We could have gone there this year to fill our China void, and Michael Andretti was gracious enough to say OK, but we really want to give Milwaukee every chance. Likewise we probably would not race at MIS because we want Detroit Belle Isle to be a success first." Would a street race in Chicago, therefore preclude a race at Chicagoland? "There is nothing to talk about with regard to a downtown Chicago race. We like Chicagoland."
On the possibility of a race at Phoenix - Bryan Sperber and I have a meeting coming up July 11th or 12th. I have had some great conversations with Bryan, and Bryan loves open wheel racing and there are opportunities there.
On NASCAR and NBC Sports Network - "It's a ways from happening and it's all speculation. I think what is more important is the Major League Baseball TV contract which is the next big sports contract to be bid. We need more good content on NBC Sports Network and that will grow their universe (following). It's too hard to speculate on NASCAR on NBC Sports Network, I have pros and cons on it."
On a possible race at Pocono - "Brandon Igdalsky is doing a complete analysis and research of an IndyCar race at Pocono. He has been amazed at the number of IndyCar fans that have expressed interest. If there is an opportunity to go there, we will have to get a car on the track there to access whether the track is suitable for our cars."
On making a final decision on new body kits for 2013 - "Within the next month will make a final decision. We want to look out for the future of our sport. We are taking everything into consideration. The racing was so good at Indy this year we do not want to mess that up so we have to look at all aspects."
On another manufacturer coming into the series for 2014 "We would love that. October 15th of this year is the deadline."
In other news/rumors, we hear that Gustavo Yacaman, winner of Saturday's Indy Lights race will be moving up to IndyCar next year. "I have been in Lights four years now and we are not considering at fifth year. If I can't do a full year I will do a partial year. A full year of Indy Lights budget = 3 IndyCar races. I have some sponsorship from Colombia and we will see how much more we can get. All IndyCar and Indy Lights are broadcast live on ESPN in South America so that helps me. I am friends with Colombian Juan Montoya who also lives in Miami with me, but he is not willing to call in any sponsorship favors for me because his son is racing now and, well blood is thicker than water."
Polled a few team owners that we missed yesterday regarding whether they were for or against the new body kits and everyone except Roger Penske said yes if the first set were free, i.e. subsidized by the manufacturers. It is rather surprising that Roger would be against it considering Tim Cindric, President of Penske Racing, also proposed the same idea. Roger's point was that it's a new car and he wants to see the engines and car sorted out better before introducing another variable. "There is a 5-year deal with this new car and I think we should introduce the new body kits mid-stream (after 2 or 3 years). It makes no sense to do it now," said Penske. Mark C. reporting from Toronto