Milwaukee still has outside chance to get on '10 IndyCar schedule
Long on hope but short on time and details, the group trying to save big-time racing at the Milwaukee Mile stepped forward Monday. "While it has had its problems in the past, we're not here about the past, we're here about the future," Tony Machi, one of the partners in Historic Mile LLC, said in a news conference at the track.
"We have the opportunity to move ahead and do some really important things with the track in the future and make some changes that will allow us to continue long into the future."
In addition to Machi, a longtime sports-car racer and retired judge, Historic Mile LLC includes Steve Jones, general manager for the previous promoter, and Jim Beaudoin, managing partner for local investment firm, whose family owned an Indy-car team in the 1980s.
On Friday his group signed a letter of intent with the State Fair Park Board for a license agreement to promote races at the Mile.
That means that it can negotiate on behalf of the track but must demonstrate to the board that it has the financial means and the business ability to fund operations at the Mile, including sanction fees, license fees and overhead expenses.
"We would all love to see a deal signed today, but we must be patient," said Susan Crain, chairwoman of the park board.
Historic Mile would inherit more than $2 million in bills due to NASCAR, the Indy Racing League and vendors, debt generated by Wisconsin Motorsports, the previous promoter.
The debt is the biggest hurdle the group faces, Machi acknowledged, but isn't insurmountable.
"We wouldn't be here if we didn't think we could resolve those issues," Machi said. "I can't discuss the specifics.
"It's hard to negotiate something when you don't have the rights. Now that we have the opportunity to do it, we'll start working on those things."
The group has no more than three weeks to strike a deal with the Indy Racing League for 2010 and maybe another week beyond that to work with NASCAR on keeping the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series races, Jones said.
Meanwhile, work has been under way for nine months to bring "two other large spectator events" to the Mile in 2010. Pressed for details, he said he couldn't comment but, "When you see what we've come up with, I think you'll be very pleased, as will the spectators."
Jones said the group was prepared, if necessary, to proceed even without one of the sanctioning bodies.
The fair board initially said before it would sign a license agreement for the track, the potential promoter would have to have secured 2010 race dates from both the IRL and NASCAR.
After the news conference, however, Craig Barkeler, interim executive director of the fair, issued a statement saying:
"If, however, for 2010, only one major race can be secured and the potential promoter has indicators that the other will return for the 2011 season, we will work with them to achieve that. The board does recognize the challenges of the timing surrounding the release of the IRL schedule." More at JSonline.com