IndyCar needs to ensure international expansion sustainable

Mark Miles has been trying to add 1 or 2 overseas races to the IndyCar calendar in February. Our opinion: While Australia and Japan probably do not work logistically, Mexico City is a no-brainer
Mark Miles has been trying to add 1 or 2 overseas races to the IndyCar calendar in February. Our opinion: While Australia and Japan probably do not work logistically, adding Mexico City to the calendar is a no-brainer

IndyCar boss Mark Miles says that establishing races which can become a sustained tradition is a key focus in the series’ international ambitions.

Miles flew to Queensland for talks on a possible return to the Gold Coast in November last year, while Motegi has also been identified as another foreign track which could make a comeback on the calendar.

In February, however, the IndyCar CEO advised that he didn’t know if the Gold Coast would become part of the series again.

When asked about progress on international expansion, Miles suggested that there is still work to be done to ensure that any such addition to the series could be viable on an ongoing basis.

“We think we’re fundamentally a North American series, but that there aren’t a lot of choices for us to race in February in North America, especially in the States, and so I think that’s an attractive time when it might be possible to race outside North America," he explained.

“So it’s going to be one or two, and we have been actively looking for some time.

“We’re trying to understand how to create a great value proposition and how to be in a place that won’t be a one-off. If we do that, we wanted it to be part of the tradition or to sustain a tradition or to start one.

“There are some places we can imagine being. Everything has to line up. Their economy has to be good. They have to put all the economics and sponsorship and the like together. But I think it’ll happen eventually."

While Japan is home to a number of the series’ major partners, including new naming rights sponsor NTT, Miles poured cold water on the prospect of that nation specifically due to its unsuitability for a February slot.

“I think philosophically all of our Japanese partners would like to see us there, whether that’s NTT or Bridgestone, Honda, obviously, and more," he said.

“It’s tough for us because generally speaking, we think the racing that’s international, outside of North America, for the most part, we think it should be before the beginning of the championship.

“And that means January, February, probably February. Difficult in Japan to find a time when the climate works.

“But we’ll keep thinking about that, and maybe there’s some way to do some kind of an event that isn’t necessarily a championship event that’s every year a part of the series."

Supercars CEO Sean Seamer, who has held talks with both IndyCar and NASCAR over possible tie-ups with the North American categories, has noted the Gold Coast would present its own problems should an event be scheduled there for February.

A joint event would also have to fit in with Supercars’ plans to start its season earlier as per its ‘summer series’ concept. Speedcafe

The NTT IndyCar Series as it stands currently "won't be racing in Japan any time soon," according to Jim Ayello of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR.

IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said that timing is the series' "biggest issue with a return to Japan." He said, "All of our Japanese partners would like to see us there, whether that's NTT or Bridgestone, Honda, obviously, and more. It's tough because we think the racing that's outside of North America, for the most part, we think it should be before the beginning of the championship. And that means January, February, probably February. It's difficult in Japan to find a time when the climate works."

Ayello noted the reason Miles "likely wouldn't consider another spot on the calendar" for a potential Japan race is because of his "long-stated preference to keep the series in North America once it starts racing there."

Indy cars "haven't raced in Japan" since '11, when the race was run on a road course because the Twin-Ring Motegi oval "suffered damage in an earthquake."

However, Miles "remains confident that IndyCar will add one if not two international races to its schedule in the near future." INDIANAPOLIS STAR

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