IndyCar hopes to increase Canadian footprint

UPDATE Wheels may be in motion to add Calgary to the IndyCar racing series, fuelling discussion on the ultimate potential of a replacement track for the now-closed Race City Motorsports Park.

CEO Randy Bernard told Toronto media Monday that the Indy series does have eyes on Canadian expansion and identified Calgary as one three cities being explored.

That came as local motorsports enthusiasts are finalizing a proposal for a multi-million-dollar racing facility on Calgary’s outskirts that Shane Keating has described as an “international stage."

Reached Thursday, Keating had not heard of Bernard’s comments but said he was intrigued.

“The goal is to make this place as diverse as possible," he said, adding with the proper funding the new Race City could be ready to host an event of Indy’s magnitude within two years.

IndyCar spokesperson Amy Konrath emphasized that Bernard’s comments were made from a long-term perspective and no formal plans are in place to establish a Calgary Indy.

“There’s a lot of factors we look at," she said. “We look at the demographic, we look at the track, we look at what people have proposed, how our cars would manage there . . . is this somewhere our sponsors want to be?"

Details about Calgary’s new motorsports park — namely its location and price tag — are still being kept under wraps, but Keating said to expect an announcement sometime this summer.

05/15/12 Three Canadian cities – Vancouver, Calgary and Quebec City – are on the radar screen for high-speed auto racing as the Izod IndyCar circuit looks to expand its pedal-to-the-metal footprint from 16 races to 19 next year.

Randy Bernard, IndyCar’s CEO, made the statement Monday, as Toronto’s Honda Indy signed on to be a Lake Ontario waterfront fixture through 2014. This year’s Toronto race is July 8.

Some towns on the existing schedule will disappear and some will be added – depending on the projected viability and potential size of the event – but the over all strategy will be growth, Bernard said.

“We want to secure the great ones and cut a couple," he said, though he added it was “premature" to identify them as potential racing sites. Vancouver played host to IndyCar racing from 1990-2004.

Toronto – anchored by hometown star James Hinchcliffe, 25, who sits third in the IndyCar standings behind leader Will Power and Helio Castroneves – and Edmonton are the two Canadian stops on the tour.

“Toronto’s a staple in our series. It brings out passion, it’s one of our highest rate races, its going back [on broadcaster] ABC. It’s important," Bernard said. “It would be great to have another race in Canada, but we want to concentrate on making Edmonton and Toronto the two best races we could have."

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