Houston IndyCar race gets more unlikely by the day
Owners of the Grand Prix of Houston feel confident their race will be part of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series, but persons with knowledge of the situation say the city will be left off the series’ soon-to-be announced 2011 schedule.
The series is expected to release its 2011 schedule in early August — without Houston on it. But Mi-Jack Promotions, owners of the Grand Prix of Houston, hope to announce the race’s return to Houston for 2012 by September. The Grand Prix of Houston left the city in 2008 when the Champ Car World Series merged with the IZOD IndyCar Series.
“Mi-Jack Promotions remains committed to returning the Grand Prix to Reliant Park, and we are optimistic that we can secure a spot on the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule,” said Chuck Kosich, general manager of Mi-Jack Promotions [We have heard that line before]. “However, it is a very competitive environment for race dates so we will have to demonstrate that we not only have all the necessary elements in place for a successful event, but also strong community and corporate support.”
That includes showing series officials Houston has the local infrastructure — hotels, restaurants and transportation — as well as local government support, a venue that works, a marketing plan and facilities to accommodate the fans.
The latest news comes as a self-imposed deadline for procuring a title-presenting sponsor for the end of June came and went with nothing to announce.
But the work is ongoing.
“We have had some positive conversations with local companies regarding the Grand Prix of Houston, but finding a title sponsor is still one of our biggest priorities,” said Austin Crossley, director of sales and marketing for Mi-Jack Promotions. “We are in the process of initiating a new sales campaign that we hope will result in us finding the right title sponsor for the Grand Prix.”
While Kosich and Crossley continue to push forward, changes are being made for the future of the IndyCar Series. On Wednesday, the series unveiled the new chassis-engine strategy that will be in place for the 2012 season.
This chassis will allow teams to be competitive while cutting the cost on team owners by 45 percent, which in turn should allow the series to see an influx of new teams.
“We have been very impressed with (IndyCar CEO) Randy Bernard and the direction he is taking the IZOD IndyCar Series, and we have had some positive conversations with him regarding Houston,” Kosich said. “We are looking forward to more opportunities to demonstrate to him what we can do and why Houston is the right choice for the IRL.” Houston Chronicle