IndyCar eyes return to Belle Isle, other former venues UPDATE IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard has also been talking to the Michigan and California Speedways, both of whom used to run 500-mile races for Indy cars but suffered precipitous fall-offs in crowds amid the worst of the CART/IRL war.
"It depends how much interest we have from our fans [in Michigan]," he remarked. "I think that's a very important question to ask in that process. We have talked to the California Speedway. It's a big issue with ISC. They would love California to be part of our series.
"I think our relationship with ISC is good," Bernard added. "What we're trying to do right now is to ask what can you bring to the table that you currently aren't bringing to the table in support of marketing and advertising. On the other side we have to make sure that we have compelling races that are very competitive and exciting."
Other domestic tracks Bernard is talking to include Road America, Laguna Seca and the Milwaukee Mile. He's also interested in trying to get back to the Pacific Northwest.
"In talking to a lot of sponsors they love reaching coast to coast and there's definitely interest in Portland or Seattle," Bernard noted. "That's definitely something we're looking at. It's not in the schedule for 2011, but maybe 2012."
Bernard admitted he's also talking to Quebec City about a possible 2012 race.
"There has been communication there back and forth," he said. "We sent a letter a couple of weeks ago saying we are interested. There are a tremendous amount of promoters out there that are wanting to bring an Izod IndyCar series event to their city, domestically and internationally, and right now we need to wade through them, look at the pros and the cons and see what's in the best interests of our sport in the longterm.
"I want to work on the 2012 schedule and get everyone excited and energetic. Next year, when we're making our decisions, we're definitely going to have a lot more tracks to choose from. I've seen some really good momentum. The promoters are very intrigued right now and they're all wanting to talk to us, which is a big positive." Gordon Kirby, The Way it Was
Open-wheel racing could very well return to Detroit in 2012. Randy Bernard, the CEO of the Izod IndyCar series, said he visited Detroit last week to tour Belle Isle, which hosted IndyCar racing on its semi-permanent Belle Isle track until the event was canceled before the 2009 race for economic reasons.
|The last time the IRL visited Belle Isle Justin Wilson won for the Newman/Haas team. The race, like all those before lost money. Can the IRL be successful this time?|
"What a beautiful little island," Bernard said Sunday morning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where the IndyCar series announced it will return to race next year. "There is interest (in Detroit)."
Bloomfield Hills-businessman Roger Penske backed the Detroit race and repeatedly has said he wants to see it return to Belle Isle. Bud Denker, senior vice president of Penske Corp., was the chairman of the event and likely would continue in that role. zzzz
"We need a race in Detroit," said Penske, who owns teams in the IndyCar and NASCAR series. The IndyCar series currently is powered by Honda.
Penske has had several discussions with Bernard about returning to Detroit, and while 2011 was the original target for Penske to revive the race, Bernard said Sunday that 2012 appears to be a more reasonable option.
"There's some intrigue there, because some of the auto manufacturers are very interested in seeing us back in Detroit and of course Roger Penske is very interested in seeing us back there, so if we can accommodate all of those, I think that it makes great sense for us to be there," Bernard said.
"I'm receptive of where it's going to showcase our sport in the very best places, and what's going to grow our sport. When you have all your auto manufacturers located in Detroit and you're car racing, I think it makes great sense to try to accommodate those folks even though they're not involved in the series right now. I think it's a step."
Michigan used to host two open-wheel races a year, in Detroit and at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The IndyCar series left MIS after the 2007 season.
MIS president Roger Curtis, whose track hosts two NASCAR weekends each summer, said recently that he has inquired about having an IndyCar race at the high-speed two-mile oval, but said it seems unlikely the series will return.
"It depends how much interest we have from our fans there," Bernard said of returning to MIS. "That's a very important question to ask in that process. I don't think you'd see (Belle Isle and MIS) in the same year I think you'd see one or the other and see the level of interest and hopefully we could grow upon that." Detroit News