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Overheard at Watkins Glen - Sunday
We had a chance to speak to IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard at Watkins Glen Sunday and he told us that he no longer wants to end the IndyCar Series in Homestead.  "If Homestead stays on the schedule in 2011 we do not want it to be our season ending race.  I like a place like Las Vegas for next year's season closer where we can hold our championship banquet the next night.  I see the power of Vegas because that is where the PBA (Professional Bull Riders Assoc.) was.  We also have a great relationship with Las Vegas as well as SMI and Bruton Smith.  I have a great relationship with the city of Las Vegas.  We had some great events in Vegas with the PBA"  Reading between the lines it sounds like Homestead is another NASCAR family track (i.e. ISC) the IRL will drop, and instead go with another SMI/Bruton Smith track in Vegas.  We believe the IRL will also drop ISC's Kansas track because they are probably getting a 2nd NASCAR and a race market simply cannot support two Cup races plus an IndyCar race.  So that would be a 2nd ISC track dropped (Kansas and Homestead) and replaced with two SMI tracks (New Hampshire and Vegas).  Also, look for a possible 18 races for 2011.......A 3rd ISC track might get dropped from the 2011 IndyCar schedule, which would nearly complete the ISC/IRL divorce (only Chicagoland would remain).  Bernard said that a decision on a 3rd ISC track, Watkins Glen, won't be made for about 6 weeks, but if it does remain on the schedule it will probably not be on July 4th weekend. "There's several ways you can measure if the IndyCar Series is a good fit for this area," said Bernard. "How many people come to the event is a key measurement.  Second off, is the territory," continued Bernard. "Being up here in the Northeast is an area that we need to continue to stay at, like we are at Loudon (N.H.) and Baltimore. "Thirdly, does it make sense from a financial standpoint? The last point would be, how aggressive are your partners going to be and how much marketing and opportunity will the event create?"  "As I talked to Michael, we have about 24 promoters that want an event," said Bernard. "This year we have 17 races and we might be able to take that to 18, but we're going to have some winners and some losers. We've already announced new races at Baltimore and Loudon. There's probably at least one we're going to have to cut.  I am not too crazy about races on holiday weekends because our sponsors don't like to entertain guests on those weekends, they prefer to be home with their families," said Bernard.  He met with Watkins Glen president Michael Printup this weekend on this very topic.  "We don't want dates, we want marriages.  The date is not as important as a good marriage for both sides.  Michael Printup said he was happy with the fan base.  There are a lot of campers out there today."..........Traditionally in racing, a series will sign a sanctioning contract with an individual track and that track will promote the event with assistance from that series. Bernard is looking to possibly have his series own its events and promote them accordingly. "Co-promotions are a way of the future for the IndyCar Series," he said. "If we are going to tell someone how they should market and promote that event, we should be willing to take the risk on that event as well.  We need to know exactly how many tickets we're selling and how the event is advertised and marketed. Those are all very important to me. It's very hard to do that if you're not an owner of the event. Sanctioning agreements to me are a way of the past."  AR1.com took a walk around the track Sunday, there were a lot of people there, even those most chose to watch the race under shade trees instead of the hot bleachers.  Printup wanted to impress upon Bernard was to not judge success here by the grandstands.  “They don’t want to sit in the grandstand, they want to be trackside and there’s always an issue of the image of ‘You’re empty.’ No we’re not. We’re pretty darn full,” Printup said.  As to what race might replace The Glen should it get dropped (we do not feel it should be dropped, as this race is definitely building in popularity), Road America or Milwaukee come to mind.....The Delta Wing concept car has not been eliminated from contention for the new chassis Bernard said, "we did not say whether the new engine had to be a stressed or non-stressed member, so no we have not eliminated any option.  We are down to three options and we will vote on it the morning of the 14th (day of the announcement) so if anyone tells you they know which way we are going, it's not true.  We purposely delayed the final vote until the morning of the announcement to ensure nothing leaked out early.".....The drop-dead date for a new engine manufacturer to commit for 2012 is October 2nd.  "I would not be surprised if another one (besides Honda) does not sign on for 2012 given the timeframe.  That does not mean we won't see more in 2013 and later."  Mark C. reporting from Watkins Glen
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