IRL future at TMS uncertain UPDATE #5 Reaction from TMS president Eddie Gossage about losing the race after the Indy 500 to Milwaukee was muted as his latest attempt to persuade the IRL to return the Bombardier Learjet 500 night race to its former coveted post-Indy slot failed. And while Lewis said it was safe to "probably assume" that TMS would host its annual summer event next June 9, Gossage noted he has not signed a sanctioning agreement with the league founded by Tony George.
"I can't tell you what's next," Gossage said. "We don't have a deal with the IRL. I'd like to think we can work everything out, but I can't guarantee we will."
At one point, Lewis said Gossage and the TMS staff were "very happy that we're going to Milwaukee after Indy," rather than visit the 1.5-mile quadoval in Fort Worth.
"John Lewis is one of my favorite people, but he's doing a tremendous spin job there," Gossage said. "It's obviously a major issue and...they made a choice. We believe we deserve better. It is the best race in the country."
TMS hosted the first race after Indy from its inaugural season of 1997 through 2005. League officials filled the open weekend after Indy with a race on the road course at Watkins Glen International this season.
In June, Gossage began lobbying IRL officials to return the open date after Indy en route to TMS. Gossage suggested the open week would best be used to promote the winner of the Indy 500 via various ABC/ESPN properties. Gossage also said the Bombardier Learjet 500 -- second only to the Indy 500 in attendance -- deserved to be carried live on ABC, rather than cable partner ESPN. Gossage said his proposal, e-mailed to George, apparently was overlooked by IRL and network officials.
"We are going to market the race bigger and better for the fans," Gossage said, "and that's going to happen if we can reach a deal." Star-Telegram08/12/06 Texas Motor Speedway's slot on the 2007 IRL schedule remains unannounced. TMS president Eddie Gossage has not signed a contract for next year, although conversations with league representatives continue.
"We've pretty much got the money [sanction fee] resolved," said Gossage, who still is hopeful of returning TMS to its previous slot as the first race after the Indianapolis 500. "We have been told they don't know if there will be something between Indy and Texas."
Gossage added there has not been much support for his idea to run the Bombardier Learjet 500 -- the league's first Saturday night race of the season -- at TMS two weeks after the Indy 500 and in primetime on ABC. Gossage has proposed that ABC/ESPN use its array of media properties to promote and showcase the Indy 500 winner and build momentum heading into Fort Worth. Gossage said he recently e-mailed IRL founder Tony George to suggest setting up a meeting with ABC officials in New York to discuss the plan. "I have not heard back a word about it," Gossage said.
Meanwhile, Gossage said he has signed contracts for TMS' two 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup dates, leaving the IRL as the piece needed to announce the schedule this month. Star telegram08/12/06 Negotiations between Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage and officials of the IRL IndyCar Series for a spot on the 2007 schedule remain stalled, and Gossage does not expect any movement this week.
IRL founder Tony George, who also is president/CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is busy hosting Formula One for the seventh annual United States Grand Prix. The contract for that event expires with Sunday's race, and George will be negotiating with Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of Formula One Management, to the last moment. Meanwhile, IRL officials are busy with the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway, also on Sunday.
"We don't have an agreement with them," said Gossage, who wants to return the Bombardier Learjet 500 night race to its former slot as the first event after the Indianapolis 500, two weeks after the big race. "Negotiations...we're really not negotiating. They seem quite busy with what they have on their plate. But they're well aware of our needs. I have every reason to believe they will be racing at Texas Motor Speedway for an 11th straight year [in 2007]."
Gossage outlined his proposal to have the event at TMS in primetime on ABC in high-definition in a letter delivered to George during the Bombardier Learjet 500 weekend. Star-Telegram
[Editor's Note: If indeed a merger is in the works for Champ Car and the IRL for 2008, it will be interesting to see how flexible the two groups are with their schedules such that they both don't race on the same weekend in 2007 whenever humanly possible. If there is an air of cooperation, and the desire to work together, then perhaps we will only see them racing on the same weekend when they race together at places such as St. Pete and Long Beach. Brian Barnhart was quoted as saying he is developing the 2007 IRL schedule with flexibility in mind, supposedly to accommodate joint race weekends.]06/16/06 This Star Telegram article talks about the worsening relationship between the IRL and Texas Motor Speedway. It is interesting to read that track President Eddie Gossage is threatening the IRL with a "It's my way or the highway" attitude.
03/24/06 According to a story in the Dallas Morning News, Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) President Eddie Gossage is not happy about losing the race-after-Indy spot on the IRL schedule and is even less happy about a possible IRL street race in San Antonio, Texas.
A series of disparaging remarks in the press from Gossage, and having already lost their fall TMS race when the track got their second NASCAR Cup race, it appears the IRL has fallen out of favor with Gossage and one has to wonder if a race in San Antonio will be enough to push Gossage over the edge, resulting in the IRL losing their biggest race outside of the Indy 500.
We can tell you that in a merged series scenario a lot of drivers and teams will not be happy racing at TMS given its history of horrible accidents for IndyCars. One has to wonder if the plan isn't to simply replace TMS with San Antonio.
02/02/06 The IRL has raced at Texas Motor Speedway since it opened in 1997, but the future of the series at the Fort Worth facility is uncertain after this year.
"I hope they'll be back," said TMS president Eddie Gossage. "I really do. I want them back. But we have to see a lot of things. One is will there be any effect on us by no longer being the race after the Indy 500."
The IRL will race at Watkins Glen, N.Y., one week after the Indianapolis 500, before racing the next weekend at TMS. Gossage also said he has concerns about Honda being the only engine manufacturer in the series.
"We don't know what impact that will have on competition," Gossage said. "It also changes the financial model we've had to work with in the past.
"But don't take those things to be critical. I'm not taking shots. I'm simply saying we have to see how things play out. And I still say Indy cars at Texas Motor Speedway are the greatest racing you'll ever see." Dallas Morning News