|IndyCar CEO Mark Miles|
Readers of AutoRacing1.com know that for years we published articles on why IndyCar must be more than just a domestic series. But time and time again IndyCar has failed to make a dent in the global market due to either poor due diligence or poor execution that resulted in one failed event after another.
Now with Mark Miles they have a CEO who knows how to take a sport global the right way. Today I had a chance to talk to Miles about his international aspirations for IndyCar.
With the 2014 season fast approaching, there has been no word on adding international races to the IndyCar schedule and I asked him what the status of those negotiations were.
"We have no international plans for 2014," Miles said. "Our plan is to start the season overseas in February of 2015 with a series of 2 or 3 races in South America (think Brazil) and the Middle East.
"These will be points paying races and take us up to the first week in March.
"We will then return home to the States and begin our domestic schedule as we do now later in March. The plan is to still end our season by Labor Day weekend."
"We are not looking at Asia right now and in the Middle East we will only race in countries F1 does not."
I asked if Europe was in play and he told me not right now because the majority of Europe is too cold in those months.
The question on everyone's mind is whether IndyCar can be successful long-term overseas.
"We are a lot less expensive than F1 and there are a lot of places in the world we can race and deliver value to a promoter. In the past we (IndyCar) raced overseas without doing our homework with the race promoter and the local government. I do not want to make those same mistakes"
Miles sounds like a guy who doesn't plan for IndyCar to fail overseas again, but I think he recognizes that it's going to take a strong promoter and buy-in for the local government to sell IndyCar in countries where it is an unknown quantity.
"We hope to be ready to announce something for 2015 in the April timeframe," said Miles.
"Besides the races in February and early March that will count toward the IndyCar Championship, we are also considering a series of 2 to 4 non-points paying races, possibly in Asia (or elsewhere) after our season ends Labor Day weekend. However, this is not our main priority right now."
With F1 costs rising out of control and the man who made F1 what it is today, Bernie Ecclestone, possibly headed for jail, one can only wonder whether IndyCar can loosen F1's global domination stronghold and carve out a nice niche overseas that will establish the series as a global player.
Not only would that attract new engine manufacturers, it can form the basis from which IndyCar can reverse their downward spiral and begin to grow.