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The IRL won't return to The Glen or any ISC track UPDATE #8 A 17-race IndyCar Series schedule for 2011 will be announced Friday in Indianapolis with no tracks from International Speedway Corporation (ISC) expected to be on the slate. IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard said last week that despite a meeting with ISC representatives at Chicagoland Speedway before the IndyCar race on Aug. 28, it was "too little, too late" to keep any of the ISC tracks on next year's schedule. ISC officials have squawked about the $1.5 million sanctioning fee that IndyCar is requesting next season.

Among the major changes that will be unveiled: the race at Kentucky Speedway will be moved from Labor Day Weekend to Oct. 2, moving from a Saturday night race to a Sunday day race. It will be the next-to-last race of the season. If Bruton Smith, the chairman of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., has his way, the IndyCar Series championship will be decided at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Bernard is attempting to get the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Bureau to sponsor the event with a large purse for the championship finale. Another idea that has been floated is to have two races that weekend, with a street race crowning the Mario Andretti Trophy winner on Day 1 with the championship finale taking place on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway the following day, according to sources. SI.com

09/02/10 As Watkins Glen International prepares for its final spectator events of the season over the next two weekends, ominous signs continue to persist about the future of the track's IZOD IndyCar Series event.

IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard suggested Saturday he may be at an impasse in negotiations for 2011 dates with International Speedway Corp., which owns four tracks on the 2010 IndyCar schedule, including Watkins Glen.

The main grandstands at Watkins Glen were mainly empty on race day this year, but a fair amount of campers were on the grounds and the first turn grandstands were 80% full
Ron McQueeney/IRL
"ISC has their primary objectives and IndyCar has their primary objectives, and I'm not sure if we're all on the same page right now," Bernard said at Chicagoland Speedway.

That is not a very positive statement -- especially so late in the negotiation process -- for Glen race fans who are hoping for a return of the series next year.

Amy Konrath, the director of media relations for IndyCar, said in an e-mail Wednesday that the 2011 schedule will "most likely be announced in a week or so."

Bernard's latest comments tend to support the rampant media speculation in recent weeks that all four of the current ISC tracks -- Chicagoland, Kansas Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Watkins Glen International -- will not return to the IZOD IndyCar schedule in 2011.

If so, it would be the first time since 1997 that an ISC track does not host an IndyCar event.

A loss of the Glen event, which has run since 2005, would leave a big hole on the track's schedule. The Glen's two largest events, the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, have already been confirmed to return next year.

Before NASCAR began its current run there in 1986, the Glen was a Mecca for open-wheel racing. Its open-wheel roots in hosting the U.S. Grand Prix from 1961 to 1980 and CART Indy car events from 1979 to 1981 helped give the track a prestigious reputation that continues to draw fans and racers from around the world.

The Glen has spent millions to upgrade its facility over the years, with many of those changes made to improve the track specifically for the return of major open-wheel racing in 2005.

When Bernard spoke at the Glen IndyCar event over the Fourth of July weekend, he laid out his objectives for 2011. That included a new business model in which he wants tracks to be more committed partners to build value in their IndyCar events, with more aggressive marketing and promotion.

He also confirmed his desire to increase sanctioning fees paid by the tracks. Those may be the sticking points that Bernard says are keeping IndyCar and ISC from getting on the "right" page.

On Saturday, Bernard added, "We want to talk to all the promoters. We want to get all of them here and say, 'OK, which one of you want to do the best job for IndyCar, which ones are going to act on their marketing, which ones are going to make sure they try to bring as many fans as possible?' We're still in that process. We're down to those final stages of really determining who those are, but that's where we're at." Elmira Star Gazette

08/27/10 Chicagoland Speedway has thrived on great finishes to Izod IndyCar Series races with four of the six closest in series history. But the end of this weekend's race probably won't be one to celebrate.  Barring an unexpected turn, there won't be an IndyCar race at the Joliet, Ill., track in 2011, ending a 10-year run. Officials from the track and the series plan to meet this weekend, but nothing more than "best wishes" figures to come from it.  Chicagoland officials accepted NASCAR's offer to move its Sprint Cup race from July to September to host the first race of next year's Chase, an event held during the same part of the year that IndyCar has raced in Chicago's suburbs.

Chicagoland's split from IndyCar is part of a larger story. Races at ISC-owned Kansas Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International aren't expected to be on IndyCar's 2011 schedule, either.  Auto Club Speedway, might be added, but it will be a failure as all open wheel races at a NASCAR owned (France Family) track have been.  Do you see the pattern? If Auto Club isn't on the schedule, it will be the first time since 1997 that IndyCar has not used an ISC track.

08/26/10 Kansas Speedway may have gained a second NASCAR Sprint Cup date for 2011, but it’s looking more and more unlikely that the IndyCar Series will return.

The Indy Racing League is expected to announce its 2011 schedule within a week, but with NASCAR occupying dates at Kansas Speedway next June 4-5 and Oct. 8-9, the only available window for Indy cars would be a night race in late July or in August.

Kansas Speedway president Pat Warren said he is still awaiting word from the IRL, which has been part of the track’s schedule since the facility opened in 2001.

“If we knew for sure we were going to have it, we’d know by now,” Warren said. “But that doesn’t mean we won’t. … a lot of things can change in racing really fast.”

08/22/10 IndyCar is finally realizing that the France family may be enemy No. 1.  Chief among the concerns is movement of the Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway to Sept. 18, the first race of the Chase. IndyCar has raced at that track in the latter part of the summer since 2001, but did ISC care?  Of course not.  Any move to disrupt the IRL is a good move in their book.

Adding a 2nd Cup race in Kansas precludes the IndyCar race that ran there for years.  You just cannot sell that many tickets in that market.

Indications are that IndyCar won't race at any of the four International Speedway Corp. tracks on the current schedule (Chicagoland, Kansas Speedway, Watkins Glen International and Homestead-Miami Speedway), but a season-ending date at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., remains a possibility.

Auto Club president Gillian Zucker was to meet with IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard on Saturday at Infineon. But we know that won't sell - been there done that.  The NASCAR race in September would not sell so the Fontana idea is there only if Bernard can't get the local support he needs to end the season with a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  And what did ISC do to thwart that?  They moved their Truck race in Las Vegas to October 15th, just when the IRL wants to wrap up their season.  The track cannot sell both races on the same weekend.  They tried in the past and failed.

Regarding enemy No.1 - ISC, Bernard said: "I'm not sure their objectives and our objectives fit. If we're not on the same page, we shouldn't force it."

On having a race in Las Vegas, Bernard said: "It's sexy, it's showy, it's lifestyle, it's a great fit."

07/28/10 Terry Angstadt said the series will not be back for its seventh race at Watkins Glen in 2011. Angstadt is president of the commercial division of the Indy Racing League.  Angstadt reportedly made the comment during a question and answer session after a presentation at a Carmel (Ind.) Chamber of Commerce luncheon July 20. Mo Merhoff, president of the Carmel Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday that Angstadt made his comment in response to a question about whether Watkins Glen would be on next year's schedule.

07/21/10 This rumor is upgraded to near-fact today with further word the IRL will not return to Watkins Glen in 2011 as it continues to distance itself from its main nemesis, NASCAR and the France family.  Every IndyCar race at every ISC/France family track has eventually failed.  Do you see the pattern?

07/05/10  This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today because, as this article states, the IndyCar race has lost money every year it ran at The Glen and next year the IRL is demanding a higher sanctioning fee, and as the track President states below, they are not in business to lose money.  See our Overheard at Watkins Glen - Sunday rumor as to what race will likely replace it in 2011. 

The future of the IZOD IndyCar Series race at Watkins Glen International will depend on many variables, series CEO Randy Bernard said Sunday. The contract for the race effectively ended late Sunday afternoon when Will Power took the checkered flag to win the sixth event run here since the series made its Glen debut in 2005.

"There are a lot of issues and factors that we have to make sure we can address," Bernard said. He added, "Our drivers love this place and our purest fan loves it, too."

Watkins Glen International has always negotiated its IndyCar event on a year-to-year basis. The track's three-year contract with title sponsor Camping World is also up for renewal for next year. Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup, who met twice with Bernard over the weekend, said Sunday that "no deal has been struck or future decided." zzzz

He said it was the first time that they have negotiated next year's race and that a decision will be made in the next six weeks, but probably sooner.

Terry Angstadt, president for the Indy Racing League commercial division, said last month that the IndyCar Series plans to announce its 2011 schedule in the first week of August.

"There is no issue with saving the event," Printup said. "It's a matter of sitting down and negotiating the business component of the racing model."

Bernard mentioned Sunday a series of demands that will put pressure on all of its series promoters, including Watkins Glen. Those include an increase in sanctioning fees and a request for tracks to be more aggressive in promoting its events to get more fans in the stands.

Printup said in a talk at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen in March that the track's IndyCar race has not made money.

"Of course, when you run a business, you want to make money. You don't want to lose money," he said Sunday. "We need to make more revenue from ticketing, but our sponsorship is beyond strong."

He added, "Today was a real strong crowd."

An increase in the sanctioning fee could be a sticking point, but Printup said, "We haven't talked hard numbers yet." Press & Sun Bulletin

06/24/10 The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule is beginning to take shape. And, for the second year in a row, it's going to have a different look. New events are already being added and others are expected to be dropped.

The changes raise some obvious questions. Specifically, could these changes affect the future of the event at Watkins Glen International?

The IndyCar Series returns to the Schuyler County facility for the sixth consecutive year next week, with the weekend culminating with the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen on July 4.

When that race is over, so is the Glen's current contract with the series' sanctioning body, the Indy Racing League. The Glen and the three other International Speedway Corporation tracks that host IndyCar events operate under one-year contracts.

Terry Angstadt, president of the Indy Racing League's commercial division, said Wednesday that negotiations with Watkins Glen are active.

"We had a very positive conference call with the ISC folks," Angstadt said. "From our standpoint, we certainly appreciate the history there and we love the entire Finger Lakes area. We'd love to come back and hopefully we can make that work."

Earlier this month, series officials announced a new IndyCar event on the streets of Baltimore from Aug. 5-7 of next year. On Sunday, they will officially announce a return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on July 30-31 of 2011. The IndyCar Series previously raced there from 1996 to 1998.

The series added new events this year at Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. They also dropped events at the Milwaukee Mile and Richmond International Speedway, which is also an ISC-owned facility. Those moves kept the schedule at 17 events, like the previous year.

Angstadt said they hope to maintain a 17-race schedule in 2011.

"Our preference, and our team and manufacturers' preference, is to keep it at 17," he said.

As for the 2011 schedule beyond Baltimore and Loudon, Angstadt said that possibility exists to add a race.

"We have one scenario that puts our schedule at 18 events," he said.

Angstadt said to accommodate that schedule length, some current events would have to be dropped.

"We've got a number of moving parts, right now," he said. "There are scenarios where there are three or four changes for venues and others that are only a couple (events dropped). Essentially, we are talking about two right now."

We won't know the fate of those tracks until the schedule is officially announced during the first week of August.

"At this point, it does an existing event a disservice to tell them we aren't coming there again," he said.

As for the Mid-Ohio event, whose date was taken by the Baltimore event, Angstadt confirmed it will return next year on a different date.

The negotiations between ISC and IndyCar officials seemed to heat up during the Watkins Glen IndyCar event last year. Statements made that weekend by Angstadt, and Michael Printup, president of WGI, made talks seem somewhat strained. Despite the posturing between the sides, a deal was hammered out in the end.

Angstadt said Wednesday their relationship with ISC is "positive."

But, he cautioned, "It certainly has to work. It's not a one-sided conversation. It has to be good for us and it has to good for them. We know sponsorship and attendance are critical factors for ISC."

Angstadt added, "We've drawn well at the Glen the last couple of years and have had some great races." Star Gazette

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