IndyCars may race in Alabama in '09 or '10 UPDATE #3 The Indy Racing League has decided not to replace the canceled Detroit Grand Prix on its 2009 schedule, dashing any hope that Barber Motorsports Park might fill the vacant spot.
Clark Virden of Zoom Motorsports said Barber was concentrating now on the upcoming March 21-23 full field, preseason Indy test at Barber and securing a spot on the 2010 schedule.
Barber hosted a limited Indy test session in 2007 but the one scheduled for March will include the entire field, plus the Indy Lights division. The hope, Virden said, is that the IRL will like what they see and include Barber when the schedule expands in 2010.
Barber promoters believe they can win an Indy race date since the league has no other races in the Southeast and because of the proximity of Indy engine supplier Honda just a few miles away near Talladega and of tire supplier Firestone in Nashville. AL.com
[Editor's Note: What are these people smoking? 99.9999% of race fans in Alabama and surrounding states love NASCAR and nothing but NASCAR. One needs to attend a NASCAR race at Talladega to understand the mentality of the fan base there.]
12/22/08 Barber Motorsports Park is hoping to take advantage of a sudden opening in the Indy Racing League schedule to bring an Indy race to Birmingham in September.
The Detroit Grand Prix scheduled for Sept. 6 at the street course at Belle Isle was canceled Thursday due to lack of sponsorship and financial support. That leaves an open date in a schedule that Barber unsuccessfully tried to get on previously. But with the Detroit race becoming the latest victim of the recession, track promoters plan to try to fill the vacancy.
"We are going to reach out to them on Monday and track them down over the holidays," said Gene Hallman, president of Zoom Motorsports, which is working to bring the race to Barber. "We've not been contacted by the Indy Racing League," he said. "If they called, we'd certainly explore the possibility of an '09 race."
Hallman said it would be a challenge to line up sponsorships for a Labor Day weekend race in just seven or eight months. He said they would need a decision by the end of January to have a chance to pull it off.
Indy officials said they have not decided whether to try to add a new race at a different venue or just leave the date open.
"The current economic climate is a challenge for all of us but as we look ahead to 2009 and beyond we remain bullish on the opportunities ahead for the unified IndyCar Series," said Terry Angstadt, president of the Indy Racing League's commercial division. "There is little doubt that the IndyCar Series offers considerable value opportunities for current and potential partners of the series and its teams and tracks.
"Any decision on what we might do with a valuable asset like a Labor Day race weekend either short- or long-term will not be decided upon quickly," he said.
Hallman said bringing an Indy race to Barber is "the No.1 priority" of Zoom Motorsports and the Bruno Event Team, which work to bringing sporting events such as golf and tennis tournaments to the Birmingham area.
An Indy race at Barber on Labor Day weekend would present scheduling challenges. The race would be up against college and high school football and would run on the same day as the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at nearby Atlanta Motor Speedway.
But Hallman said those problems could be overcome because the race would attract open-wheel racing fans from across the Southeast, especially since the closest Indy races in 2009 will be at Kentucky; Richmond, Va.; St. Petersburg; and Fort Worth, Texas.
"We obviously wouldn't want that date long term," he said, adding that a spring date for 2010 and beyond would be sought.
Barber's competition for the open spot on the schedule is likely to come from Miller Motorsports Park in Utah; Nashville, which was dropped from the Indy schedule; and several venues that were left without races when the CART series merged with the IRL. BirminghamNews.com12/08/08 Barber Motorsports Park hasn't tried to hide the fact that it would like to land an IndyCar Series race in 2010.
"I don't want to put a percentage on that happening, but I can say this preseason test is certainly a step in the right direction," said Griffin, IRL's vice-president of public relations when asked whether the IndyCars will test at Barber Motorsports Part this off-season. "We want to put the entire field on the track and gauge the reaction from the drivers. We also want to gauge the response from the locals."
Gene Hallman, president of Zoom Motorsports, which bid various incentives and revenue-sharing to woo the IRL to bring a full-field test session to Barber, said the drivers and IRL officials will have the welcome mat laid out before them. al.com
07/19/08 The roar of IndyCar engines, the sweet smell of pure ethanol fuel, and Danica Patrick may be coming to Barber Motorsports Park as early as next April.
|Barber Motorsports Park|
Gene Hallman of Zoom Motorsports, who has been working for the past year to persuade the Indy Racing League to add the 2.38-mile road course at Barber to its 2009 schedule, said the chances are good the track will host a race either next year or in 2010.
"We're hopeful it's 2009," Hallman said. "I personally feel that Indy racing will be at this facility no later than 2010."
The IRL has yet to release its 2009 schedule, a task complicated by trying to accommodate some of the tracks that hosted Champ Car races last year before the two rival open-wheel series merged. Hallman hopes for a decision about 2009 by the end of this month.
Hallman said the facilities at Barber impressed Indy officials last fall when they came here for a test session and that the track is at the head of the line among new tracks seeking a race.
"All indications are they are eager to come to this facility," he said. "Their intent is to come to this facility."
Other factors working in Barber's favor, Hallman said, include the IRL's desire to locate a race in the Southeast. The closest race to Birmingham on the current schedule is at Nashville Superspeedway, but published reports have indicated that track might be dropped from next year's schedule.
Also working in Barber's favor is the proximity of the Honda assembly plant in Lincoln. Honda is the sponsoring manufacturer in the IndyCar Series.
If Barber does land an IndyCar race, it is likely to be in early April, a few weeks before NASCAR's spring race at Talladega. It might also require Barber to make a few changes to the track such as with fencing or on pit road, although Hallman said any changes would be minor. Birmingham News
If this rumor is true, which we doubt, the 2009 schedule to be announced is 3 weeks might look like:
- St. Petersburg 1.78 Mile Street
- Long Beach 1.97 Mile Street
- Birmingham 2.38 Mile RC
- Kansas City 1.5 M Oval
<--Sonoma could move here---------
<--Kentucky could move here----- |
- Indianapolis, IN 2.5 mile Oval......| |
- West Allis, WI 1.032 Mile Oval.....| |
- Ft Worth, TX (Sat. Nite)............| |
- Newton, IA 0.875 Mile Oval..........| |
- Richmond, VA (Sat. Night)...........| |
- Watkins Glen 3.37 Mile RC...........| |
- Lexington, OH 2.258 Mile RC.........| |
- Toronto, CN 1.721 Mile Street.......| |
- Edmonton CN 1.96 Mi Airport.........| |
- Sparta, KY (Sat Nite) 1.5 Mile Oval.| |
- Sonoma, CA RC -----------------------
- Detroit, MI 2.096 Mi. RC
- Joliet, Ill. 1.5 Mile Oval
- Motegi, Japan Sat 1.549 Oval
- Queensland, Au 2.795 Mi Street 50/50 might not happen
- Las Vegas 1.5 Mile oval
Mark C. reporting from Mid-Ohio.