IRL to finalize Edmonton & Surfers, drop loser races
Officials from Northlands and the Rexall Edmonton Indy are flying to Indy today to finally finish off a multi-year contract to become a staple in the newly merged IndyCar Series.
"It's a signature," said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division of IndyCar.
"We'll get it signed here. The intention is to be there long-term," he added.
Sun Media has also learned that not only will the race finally show up on the official schedule and make the Edmonton race the only one in the series in Canada this year, it will end up as the only former Champ Car Series event featuring drivers and cars from both series this season.
Due to a contract with Chicagoland to have their September race the final event of the series, the Surfer's Paradise Champ Car event from Australia will go as planned in late October but not count in the standings this season.
It will either run as a one-off or as the start of next season. "No deal has been signed with Surfer's yet," said Angstadt.
The other Champ Car race in unification is the Long Beach event, which ran this year as the last event in Champ Car history but counted in this year's IndyCar Series standings, running on the same weekend as the Indy Racing League event in Japan in which Danica Patrick took the checkered flag for the first time.
Sun Media has also learned that a tentative schedule for next year is expected to be released in July, including the Edmonton race and the expected return of the Toronto Indy.
The tentative schedule will feature 18 races.
"We're looking at a 50-50 balance between oval races and street races," said Angstadt.
"In our tentative plans, that's dead on. Nine oval and nine street and airport events, like the one in Edmonton."
Getting to this day with the Rexall Edmonton Indy and to have next year's schedule out in July hasn't been an easy deal because of U.S. law, the effective bankruptcy of Champ Car to make a merger possible and previously contracted races with locked dates.
"It's what I call three dimensional chess," said Angstadt. "You move one race and it affects three other events. Our sport is weather driven, so there's that factor. There are historical events. How solid is the event? How solid is the promoter? The sponsorship? The attendance?
"The great thing about Edmonton is that we were not going into the unknown. The promoter, Northlands, and the sponsor, Rexall, are both solid. We had a conflict with their historical date, but we were open the next weekend. Bingo.
"It's a significant event. We want to be there."
He called not having the Edmonton race on the official schedule "a technicality."
The race has several pages in the media guide and has appeared in ads, including one in Sports Illustrated. The teams have their hotels booked in Edmonton.
But the deal, until it's signed here this weekend, has not been done.
Yesterday, it was announced that Long Beach had just signed a five-year deal for the future. That's the likely term for the Edmonton and Australia races as well.
Angstadt is the president of the commercial division of IndyCar dealing with venue selection, promoter relations, communications, sales, marketing, public relations, broadcast, business planning and development and organizational operation of the Indy Racing League.
VP of marketing
He previously served as vice-president of marketing for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he headed up the marketing, licensing, food and beverage, creative services and retail operations for the Indy 500, the Allstate 400 NASCAR race at the Brickyard and the United States Grand Prix the years it was held here.
He's used to having a full plate.
To have an 18-race series, including Toronto and a couple more Champ Car stops of the past, would mean dropping a couple of duds from the IRL schedule.
"We prefer to call them under-performing, less-than-optimal events," Angstadt laughed.
It's not likely Mid-Ohio, the race which is scheduled for the weekend prior to Edmonton, is on the drop list.
It's a Honda property and Honda, including the engines being used in every car, is a major series sponsor.
The problem with the current Edmonton date is the race, at least as it is scheduled this year, is that it must run Saturday instead of Sunday because of the NASCAR event, the Allstate 400, which runs here, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the Sunday and takes away the TV slot.
Northlands would prefer to go back to the previous weekend, the opening weekend of Capital Ex.
"We know that's their desire," said Angstadt, but he didn't suggest if or when a solution will be found. Edmonton Sun