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DATE News (chronologically)
IRL to open season in Brazil, China later UPDATE #16 SpeedTV reports: The 2010 opener had a date (March 14) and a country (Brazil) but no venue until recently. Now it appears that Rio de Janeiro is going to be the host, with a street race by the ocean and that announcement could be any day now.

10/22/09 Rumors are circulating that the IRL Brazil race may not be such a forgone conclusion. Apparently a story on the IRL website, announcing the race confirmation, was posted in error and blamed on a hacker (though that sounds a bit odd as we think a hacker would be more interested in pulling subscriber data from their server than simply posting stories about a race) but the story was pulled and no announcement has yet been made. Information we have tells us that they are focusing on this one, and we will see something announced soon...either way. That the IRL had a story written and ready to go does tell us that they must be optimistic that it will happen. This will be good news for Bruno Junqueira, as he told us in Homestead that he has good prospects for funding if there is a Brazil race.

10/18/09 Drug traffickers shot down a police helicopter during a gun battle between rival gangs Saturday, killing two officers in a burst of violence just two weeks after Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2016 Olympic Games while also showing some interest in hosting an IndyCar race.

Ten suspected drug traffickers were also killed during the fighting in a shantytown, along with two bystanders in the slum, officials said.

Bullets flying from the Morro dos Macacos ("Monkey Hill" in Portuguese) slum in northern Rio de Janeiro hit the police helicopter pilot in the leg as he hovered above the shootout, causing him to lose control and crash.

Two officers died, while the pilot and three other policemen escaped after the craft hit and burst into flames. The pilot and a second officer suffered burns and bullet wounds. The other two officers also were burned, one gravely, said Mario Sergio Duarte, head of Rio state's military police.

Officials did not know whether the gangs targeted the helicopter or whether it was hit by stray bullets, but the event underscored security concerns that have dogged Brazil's second-largest city for decades.

It was not clear what sort of weapon or weapons hit the helicopter, but Duarte said it was unlikely to have been an anti-aircraft missile. Such weapons have been found in the hideouts of drug traffickers along with other heavy, military-grade arms such as grenade launchers and .50-caliber machine guns.

Duarte said the pilot was able to make a somewhat controlled, though extremely rough landing, which he said would have been unlikely if the aircraft had been hit by a heavy weapon.

Police said 10 presumed traffickers were killed during the fighting in the slum, including three suspects found dead inside a vehicle. Officials gave no details on the other seven.

They said at least eight buses were set on fire in other slums. Television images showed motorists fleeing for cover as automatic-weapons fire crackled in broad daylight amid the worst violence the city has seen in months.

Images broadcast by Globo TV showed flames shooting from the helicopter wreckage, with little more than charred pieces and an intact tail remaining after the fire was doused. AP Story

08/30/09 Autosport reports that the IndyCar Series to set to finalize a deal this week to hold a street race in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil as its season opener in March 2010, according to the Indy Racing League's commercial boss Terry Angstadt.  Angstadt and Tony Cotman, the vice president of competition, will visit city and commercial leaders in Salvador this week in meetings Angstadt says should lead to contracts.

"We've lots of good letters and communications back and forth," Angstadt said. "All the basic business fundamentals are out in the open. I don't think there are any issues there. We hope to get something signed while we're there."

Below are some circuit layouts we found for you.  The Brazilian stock car series recently raced there before 60,000 people.

08/25/09 Rumor has it, according to AutoWeek, that the city likely to land the opening Brazil IndyCar race in 2010 is Salvador, Brazil.  Salvador is a beach resort north of Rio de Janeiro.. Salvador is also known as Brazil's capital of happiness due to its easygoing population and countless popular outdoor parties, including its street carnival. The first colonial capital of Brazil, the city is one of the oldest in the country and in the New World; for a long time, it was also known as Bahia, and appears under that name (or as Salvador da Bahia, Salvador of Bahia so as to differentiate it from other Brazilian cities of the same name) on many maps and books from before the mid-20th century. Salvador is the third most populous Brazilian city, after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and it is the ninth most populous city in Latin America, after Mexico City, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Lima, Bogotá, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago and Caracas.

The city of Salvador is notable in Brazil for its cuisine, music and architecture, and its metropolitan area is the wealthiest in the northeastern region of the country. Over 80% of the population of metropolitan region of Salvador has Black African ancestry.

07/17/09 Indy Racing League officials figure to take a big step forward this weekend in anchoring the 2010 schedule.  Terry Angstadt, the president of the league's commercial division, will be in Brazil, hoping to sign a contract to stage a March street course race in Helio Castroneves' hometown, Ribeirao Preto. Angstadt will be joined on the trip by Tony Cotman, the IRL's vice president of competition, to review a circuit planned for Campinas, a city about an hour from Sao Paulo. Ribeirao Preto is two hours north of Sao Paulo.  Also under consideration for one of what would be two Brazilian races to start the season is a street course race in Rio de Janeiro.  Indy Star

06/25/09 The rumor is that the promoters in Ribeirao Preto, a very wealthy city of 650,000 that’s also the home of three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, are going to shell out the largest sanction fee ever – maybe as much as $6-7 million.

And, in addition to receiving free airfare, rooms and meals, the IndyCar teams will all collect a six figure paycheck – in the vicinity of $125,000-150,000 – to make this arduous journey more palatable.

“We’ve said all along that any foreign races must be lucrative for the league and for our teams and this model in Brazil includes both,” said Terry Angstadt, president of IndyCar’s commercial division.

“We’re very excited about getting this deal done.”

Tony Cotman, the IRL vice president of competition, is optimistic the Preto circuit can be racy.

It’s going to be a street circuit with elevation and it will be pretty fast,” said Cotman, who made several trips to Brazil to also check out venues in Rio, Brasilia and another unspecified location. “It’s going to have a couple of long straightaways and we can create some passing zones.

“It’s a long way from being finished and there’s a lot of work to do but at the end of the day it should be a fun track and there’s three and a half million people within a 60-mile radius.”
Of course, the bottom line is how can Ribeirao Preto spend all this money and be profitable at some point? That was always the downfall of CART’s away races (except for Australia which was funded by the government and absorbed tremendous losses). SPEEDTV

06/23/09 More on Brazil and China from US Today - APEX-Brasil joined the series this year as the sole provider of the ethanol fuel used in open-wheel cars and has been running spot ads throughout IndyCar telecasts all season.

The series also was popular in Brazil, which has produced a large contingent of successful and popular IndyCar drivers. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and 2004 points champion Tony Kanaan both call Brazil home. Former Indy pole-winner Bruno Junqueira, who has not driven in an IndyCar race this season, and Vitor Meira, who hasn't driven since injuring his back at Indy, also are from Brazil along with series regulars Raphael Matos and Mario Moraes.

Two other familiar names on the circuit, E.J. Viso and Milka Duno, are from Venezuela.

Plus, it gives Castroneves, one of the highest-profile IndyCar drivers, a chance to run on a street course in his hometown.

"It will be run through a city park," Angstadt said. "It's a high-tech city, it's very cosmopolitan and it's in the heart of the sugarcane area."

IndyCars is also taking a long look at adding China to its schedule in 2011 or 2012.

Angstadt said the series hopes to have a Chinese driver in that race and has already identified three potential prospects that could soon compete in the developmental Indy Lights series. Under consideration is Qingdao, which hosted the Beijing Olympics sailing.

An announcement could come later this year.

The Chinese plan to build an auto racing venue that could hold up to 500,000 fans. But it might not be finished until 2012. So if the series goes to China in two years, Angstadt said they would likely use a temporary street course.

For now, though, it's all about the early start in Brazil where an IndyCar race is expected to draw a big crowd.

06/19/09 The IndyCar Series plans to start its 2010 season in Brazil. Paperwork was submitted on Wednesday to Brazilian officials for one race in March in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil, a municipality and city in the state of Sao Paulo in southeastern Brazil.

Terry Angstadt, the IRL's president, commercial division, told the Times-Dispatch yesterday he's "90 percent" certain that race will take place.

"We have literally yesterday [Wednesday] issued a sanction agreement to them," he said. "It's going pretty well, but those things are never done until they're done. We're optimistic we'll get at least one race done for 2010, there's a chance for two."

There are two street-course racing options in Ribeirao Preto, said Angstadt: a park and through a development in its early stages.

A second race in Brasilia, envisioned as part of back-to-back weekends to open the season, is about 50/50 for 2010, said Angstadt, who added it would be held on a "permanent road course there that would need some work."

"While it's still cold up here, we could race twice before our season starts domestically."

The series currently features five drivers -- Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Rafael Matos, Vitor Meira and Mario Moraes -- from Brazil.

A race in China would wait until 2011 or 2012, depending on whether the league races on existing streets or waits for a motorsports park to be constructed.

"China is a little longer-term project," Angstadt said. "The intent is to get something signed early fourth quarter this year." Richmond Times Dispatch

05/26/09 On Saturday I had a long chat with Terry Angstadt, the president of the commercial division of the IRL, and he told me about the IRL's bold expansion plans. By 2012 the IRL will be racing in Brazil, China and perhaps India. The existing 17-race schedule also will balloon to 20.

"The key for us is to get in these new markets and develop sponsorships and continue to grow," Angstadt said. "Our TV ratings aren't where we want them right now in the U.S. and we've got to do a better job of growing the profiles of our drivers. But we see great opportunities internationally." SI.com

05/11/09 Series officials have visited two or three Brazilian sites, but have not named the cities.  China is another potential venue. Like Brazil, it is an emerging economic market, and China has the world's largest population at 1.3 billion.  Series officials believe opening that market could lead to new sponsorship deals, increase the fan base and, yes, even host a race.

Angstadt cautioned that discussions are early but said he returned Thursday from a three-day visit to look at Qingdao, China, the city that hosted the Beijing Olympics sailing competition. There's another logical reason for considering China.

"We would button that race onto Motegi, which would make it a two-hour trip rather than a 15-hour trip,'' Angstadt said. "One is much more advanced (in discussions) than the other.'' AP article

04/28/09 The Indy Racing League is taking a serious look at holding a race in China as early as 2011. Series officials said there are several good reasons why the league may want to head to the nation of 1.33 billion people.  “Obviously it’s a very big market, and I love the interest they are showing,” said  Terry Angstadt, president of the Indy Racing League’s commercial division, who departed Sunday for a five-day swing through China. “We are clearly interested.”  Angstadt told IBJ before this season started that he would be meeting with a number of Chinese government officials to hash out the possibilities of bringing the IRL to China. Fourteen of the IRL’s 17 races this year are in the U.S., with two excursions into Canada and one to Japan comprising the series’ international outreach. Angstadt said a race in Brazil next year is a strong possibility.

While the talks are in the “early stages,” Angstadt said Chinese officials are thinking big.

“We’re looking at one existing and one new facility,” Angstadt told IBJ. “Chinese officials said they want a venue that will hold 500,000 people.”

That’s 100,000-plus more than fit in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indianapolis 500. Such a massive audience, Angstadt said, could open the door to new league and team sponsorships in Asia and elsewhere.

But Angstadt said the move into China would be about more than appealing to a mass audience.

“A lot of our corporate partners and team sponsors have a serious interest in being in China,” Angstadt said. “Lots of IRL companies have business relations in China. For instance, Penske has operations in China and Menard’s buys in China. A race there would allow them to enhance those relationships and possibly forge new ones.”  IBJ.com

04/27/09 Terry Angstadt, president of the Indy Racing League's commercial division, said his upcoming trip to China and ongoing talks with Brazil don't mean the IndyCar Series is intent on going global.  "We're a domestic series and will continue to be," he said Sunday. "But to not explore opportunities in countries with emerging economies, we would not be doing our job."  Angstadt leaves Sunday on a five-day junket to China. Any race there is at least two years away, he said, but Brazil is a likely addition to the 2010 schedule. IndyStar

04/04/09 We hear that the Assen, Holland circuit had just signed a 5-year deal with Champ Car-Europe before the merger.  The promoters there still have 4 years left on their agreement with the government to run an American Series Open Wheel race there and they really want IndyCar to run there.  However, they were told by Tony George that the IRL were not interested in Europe because they wanted to stay focused on North America.  Why then is Terry Angstadt talking about Brazil and China? 

IndyCar has Robert Doornbos (with backing from Muermans and at some point possibly ING) and the up-and-coming Indy Lights driver Junior Strous who has backing from Dutch Shell, so there is a real 'Dutch' connection there.

Assen Circuit
Assen is a fantastic facility (the IRL doesn't know what they would be missing) and teamed with a race at the Eurospeedway oval makes a lot more sense than Brazil (Ethanol is a dead-end).  The Dutch really want an American Open Wheel race with international TV coverage, and the 5-year deal with Champ Car still has 4 years left on the contract just waiting for the IRL to take up that event.

Kevin Kalkhoven had a tentative deal with the Chinese government to run a Champ Car race in Beijing after the Olympics were over, so if something does materialize in China it will probably be Beijing or Shanghai. Mark C. reporting from St. Pete

04/03/09 Angstadt said the series is taking a “hard look” at competing in Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia or Ouro Preto, Brazil.

04/03/09 Terry Angstadt said there is a solid shot the Barber road course could be added to the IRL slate in 2010 or 2011. Several turns in the course would have to be widened to accommodate passing, Angstadt said, and widening pit row also would be nice. Despite it being in the heart of NASCAR country, it’s a market IRL officials are eager to penetrate.

“It’s not a DMA that jumps out, but if you look at the three-hour radius, that’s 24 million people,” Angstadt said. “Firestone loves this market. There are lots of automotive manufacturers there, and since we left Nashville (Tenn.) it could give us a stronger presence in the Southeast.”

Another problem, said Angstadt, is there are no grandstands. But he thinks those could be relatively easily added. The facility does have a sizable media center and museum.

“It’s like Augusta (home of The Master’s), with rolling elevation and magnolia trees,” he said. “It’s the prettiest motorsports facility you’ll ever lay eyes on.”

With the IRL looking to add races earlier in the year, Alabama could be a good fit.

“We have capacity at the front end of our schedule,” Angstadt said. “Ideally, we want to start our season in March and end in October. We have 17 races now, and I could see expanding to 20 pretty comfortably.”

Alabama isn’t the only new location IRL officials are considering. Facilities in Cleveland, Houston, Brazil and China also are being studied, Angstadt said.

04/01/09 Terry Angstadt, president of the IRL's commercial division, says the series would like to start its schedule a few weeks earlier and is considering many options, including a season opener in Brazil (an agency based in the country has become the series' ethanol supplier).

Angstadt, who expects a crowd of more than 60,000 Sunday, says St. Petersburg's promoters would prefer to keep their current date and "are completely fine with us racing a time or two before there."

After dropping to 17 races in 2009 following the December cancellation of the Detroit Grand Prix, IndyCar could expand to 18 or 19 in 2010 with a goal of 20.

Angstadt says Barber Motorsports Park, which drew 20,000 fans for a test last month, is high on the list for an event next season. Officials from the Leeds, Ala., track will attend Sunday's race.

"It's a cool venue, and it's in the Southeast, where we're not," Angstadt says. "We'd like to take a faster form of motor sports to that community."

The IRL would like to keep its season from early March to mid-October but is considering a non-points "invitational" race in the offseason. "It'd be a hybrid of testing and a race where we maybe go to a market that we don't know to see if it would do us good in the future," Angstadt says. USA Today

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