Milwaukee to replace Chicago IndyCar race UPDATE In addition to the Indy Racing League, itself, two potential promoters are interested in being involved in bringing the IndyCar Series back to the Milwaukee Mile, the head of the league said Saturday.
“Hopefully something in the next couple years, if not this year, can be done,” Randy Bernard, CEO of the Indy Racing League, said before the race at Chicagoland Speedway.
“I want that event bad. The traditionalists, the purists, we have a tremendous fan base that feels we left them behind, and I think this is a step toward showing we want to make sure tradition stays a part of IndyCar, as well as moving the sport forward too.”
Major racing left the Mile after last season, when the former promoter, Wisconsin Motorsports, defaulted on its payments to the Indy Racing League and NASCAR and to State Fair Park, which owns the track. The most likely scenario for the IRL’s return would involve an individual or group renting the facility.
In an interview last month, Bernard said for the league to promote a race at the Mile – with two partners he has not identified -- he was looking for the State of Wisconsin to contribute $400,000 for the first year.
“The state would like to help us; the state’s in a pickle in their own mind,” Bernard said. “I never want to be a parasite to any state. I don’t that’s fair to the state, and I don’t think it looks good upon IndyCar.
“But it has to be viable. Right now we’re trying to figure out how we make this event viable with what we have to work with.”
The 2011 schedule could be complete by the end of next week but may not be announced for some time afterward, Bernard said. In all likelihood it will again include 17 race weekends, counting the Texas Motor Speedway doubleheader a single event. JSOnline08/28/10 Milwaukee could replace Chicagoland Speedway if it returns to the IndyCar lineup. Speaking to reporters before Saturday night's race at Chicagoland, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said "several" promoters are interested in bringing the series back to Milwaukee.
"I want that event bad," Bernard said.
"I think that we have a tremendous fan base that feels like we left them behind, and I think that this is a step forward to make sure tradition stays a part of IndyCar," Bernard said.
"The state would like to help us," Bernard said. "The state's in a pickle in their own mind. I never want to be a parasite to any state. I don't think that's fair to the state, (and) I don't think it looks good upon IndyCar. But it has to be viable. So right now, we're trying to figure out how we make this event viable with what we have to work with."
One drawback for Milwaukee, Bernard said, was that the facility has “only 40,000 seats.” He was reminded that recent races drew far short of a full house.
“That’s true,” Bernard said. “But . . . you have to look at how many seats and you have to look at return on your investment. No businessman will go into a business thinking he’s only going to sell 25,000 seats, in my opinion. I’m not. I want to sell a lot more. Maybe I’m dreaming again. You’ve got to dream sometime.”
Bernard met with Craig Rust, president of Chicagoland Speedway, and John Saunders, president of International Speedway Corp., Saturday to discuss the IRL’s future at Chicagoland.
“It would most likely be Chicago or Milwaukee, possibly,” Bernard said. “I don’t know if we need both.
“Chicagoland, ISC, has their primary own objectives, and IndyCar has their primary objectives, and I’m not sure we’re all on the same page right now. But we still have a great relationship with ISC.”
Bernard's goal is to keep a balance of 50/50 ovals and road courses. One venue that always comes up in conversations about the IndyCar schedule is Road America. Representatives of the Elkhart Lake, Wis., road course and sanctioning body have talked about a date for years. George Bruggenthies, president and general manager of Road America, has said he would like a race but has to be convinced it would not lose money for the track.
“Everybody wants Road America,” Bernard said. “Road America isn’t going to happen for (next) year, for sure. We would love to have an event at Road America, but right now we’re just not in any position. I need to spend some time with George and see what the opportunities are up there. George and I, we’ve met, but we have not had any serious deliberation on it.”