MotoGP back at Indy in 2011
As MotoGP unloads its motorcycles today to prepare for the third Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, the race appears to be on the verge of getting a green flag for next year.
With thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts expected to descend upon the city this weekend, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and CEO Jeff Belskus is optimistic they will have reason to return in the future.
Sunday's race is the last in the original three-year deal, but talks are ongoing with Dorna, which holds MotoGP's commercial rights. A new contract could be announced before the international series leaves town.
"While we have not finalized our deal yet for 2011, my expectation is we will get it put together in the next few days," Belskus said. "We still have a couple of unresolved issues, but I expect we will resolve these issues."
An extension could help offset an expected attendance decline for the second year in a row.
The premier class race is at 3 p.m. Sunday. Practice begins Friday with qualifying Saturday in a weekend that includes off-track entertainment and promotions geared to a motorcycle-loving audience.
As it did for NASCAR's Brickyard 400, the Speedway has reduced its ticket prices for MotoGP -- $40 general admission seats on race day, with kids 12 and younger admitted free -- in hopes of attracting more fans despite a sputtering economy. But the July 25 Brickyard 400 race had more than 110,000 empty seats, the most in its 17-year history, so Speedway officials anticipate the economy will be a factor for the MotoGP event, as well.
"We think it will have an impact, and we have planned on that," Belskus said. "Hopefully, we're pleasantly surprised, and it has less of an impact than we thought. The economy is affecting a lot of things. In this case, the event is so different in that it's a much smaller event than our other racing events, so the impacts are a little harder to see." IndyStar