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DATE News (chronologically)
02/05/10
track news
Professor predicts Indy Speedway will go out of business  Two unrelated announcements last week in Indianapolis continued story lines that aren’t improving with the passage of time.

The biggest eye-opener was Tony George’s sudden shutdown of Vision Racing, the Indy Racing League team. By pulling his car from the league, prospects for fielding a full slate of 33 cars to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 got that much harder.

Earlier the same day, Jan. 29, Eli Lilly and Co. reported a decline in operating profit in the fourth quarter. But the news about its Effient blood thinner was worse. Sales of Effient, Lilly’s newest drug and one of the company’s hopes for surviving an upcoming string of patent losses, plunged and prompted investors to sell Lilly stock.

In isolation, neither event was significant. But bad news out of both Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Lilly is becoming disquietingly common.

The cachet, the “holy ground” aura of Indianapolis Motor Speedway is fading. George’s announcement was the latest in a string of setbacks going back to the early ’90s. Lilly is losing traction, too. The company has unloaded thousands of workers, and its stock is trading at 1997 levels. Analysts continue to question the future of big drug companies as they struggle to find new products to sell.

So, let’s ratchet up the discomfort for the sake of argument. What if both pillars tip further? Or topple entirely?

Several years ago, the notion of even a diminished Speedway or Lilly would have been absurd. Now it isn’t, says Dan Knudsen, an Indiana University geographer who has studied economic development and keeps an eye on Indianapolis.

Knudsen says Indianapolis should brace for the Speedway going out of business within a few years. Open-wheel racing has been losing popularity, and young people in particular don’t seem to care about it. Imagine the track as a type of empty Roman Coliseum, he says. IBJ.com

[Editor's Note: And in will step ISC or SMI to buy the track and turn the Indy 500 into a NASCAR stock car race.  At that point the late Bill France's dream will be realized when he urged Tony George to create the IRL knowing full well it would be the downfall of Indy Car racing.  France knew if CART lost the Indy 500, it would be the beginning of its end.  Too bad, because at the time, according to the Joyce Julius reports, the CART paddock had twice as much sponsorship money as NASCAR, but the loss of its crown jewel was too much for it to survive.]

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