IndyCar CEO wants Calgary, but does Calgary want IndyCar? (2nd Update) UPDATE #2
If things go according to plan, IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe hopes to be battling for a win on the streets of downtown Calgary in 2017.
|Hinchcliffe working on landing an Alberta race for IndyCar|
After getting a positive reaction from the city officials in a preliminary meeting earlier this year, Hinchcliffe and his Schmidt Peterson Motorsport team co-owner and Calgary native Ric Peterson can already see an Alberta race on the horizon.
"The ducks are all kind of starting to get in a row," said four-time IndyCar race winner Hinchcliffe, of Oakville, Ont.
"We still have a lot of work to do on it, but the initial conversations have really been quite good and we are excited about it. I would love to have it in place for 2017; it's a lofty goal but you got to have goals."
Fans might recall that IndyCar previously ran a race in Alberta, but the event in Edmonton never found enough corporate support to be viable. Peterson, who owns Oculus Transportation, a successful oil-field services company, feels corporate support shouldn't be an issue in Calgary.
|Calgary is due south from Edmonton|
"It's different promoters, which will make a big, big difference," Peterson said.
"There are a lot more corporate head offices in Calgary and they just seem to know how to pull off big events.
"The Calgary Stampede is unbelievable - every year I just shake my head at how they can draw in 100,000 people, 10 days in a row."
The date for the event is yet to be determined, but it might make sense from a promoter and series perspective to have both Canadian races back-to-back as happened with the Toronto-Edmonton pairing.
“There are a couple of different challenges with the season being condensed,” Hinchcliffe said. “We have one in mind that we would like and we are getting everything in place before we bring it in a more formal capacity to the series." Globe and Mail02/11/15
Motorsport.com reports that Schmidt Peterson's James Hinchcliffe, along with team co-owner and Calgary businessman Ric Peterson are making a push to bring IndyCar back to western Canada.
|James Hinchcliffe with his girlfriend Kirsten|
"When we had Vancouver, it was one of the best races on the calendar. Edmonton was popular at first, but with the political issues and the promoters there it kind of killed that one. Ric and I have talked a lot about a street race in Calgary. We all know the city is capable of running big events, they do it every year," Hinchcliffe told Motorsport.com.
"IndyCar is very much in favor of having a race in Calgary," Peterson said, adding that even the Calgary Stampede grounds could play host to the event, but that would be determined by the City, user groups and promoters.
"It would be awesome to see (a race in Calgary) in the 2016 season. Whether we can pull that off or not I am not sure. I don't really see why not. That would be my hope, but even if we shot for 2017, that would be fine," Peterson said.
"There were a lot of reasons why a street race in Calgary not only makes a lot of sense, but would be massively successful," said Hinchcliffe, adding that the oil industry and auto industry go hand in hand.
"(We) want to try and do what we can to try and push that agenda forward because I think it benefits Canadian motorsports, it benefits the City, and it benefits IndyCar as a whole because Canada has always been massively supportive of IndyCar racing. The fans there are second to none."
10/15/12 IndyCar's chief executive once got a taste of Calgary's hospitality and he would love some more.
But Randy Bernard told Metro in an exclusive interview that while a promoter did approach the circuit about sponsoring a local open-wheel racing event last year, the pitch "never went anywhere."
"I think it needs to make financial sense for our partner in any city we go to," he said. "There's other cities in Canada that are very interested in a race."
With the main sponsor of the Edmonton Indy, Octane Motorsports, pulling out of hosting the annual race, only Indy Toronto remains as far as the circuit's activities north of the border are concerned.
Bernard has said he was hopeful that Indy would return to two Canadian cities as early as 2014, but said Calgary was not likely to host an event so soon - if ever.
Nevertheless, the reminiscing CEO does have a personal connection to the local events scene, serving as an intern with the Calgary Stampede in 1988.
"Being there for a summer - five months - and seeing how much the city gets involved in its events, I think it would be a great market for us in Canada," Bernard said. "I just love the city and the people, it would be great to have a race there."
Local Ald. Shane Keating has mused about drawing an international racing circuit to a new track being pitched near Airdrie, known formally as the Rockyview Motorsports Park.
"If we can make something like that work, it's something we should definitely look into it," he said last month, just days after Edmonton Indy was cancelled.
Officials involved in raising funding for the $30-million project have confirmed that while the development does not hinge on drawing large racing circuits, they could well be accommodated in the existing design.
Bernard said having a track already in place has led to "huge savings" in other Indy cities and added that the local market is one the circuit would never rule out.
"I love Calgary . . . it's one of my favorite cities in the whole world," he said. MetroNews Canada