For the first time since 1999, the fabled venue will not be visited by the formula one circus this year, after George and the series' chief executive Bernie Ecclestone failed to reach a new agreement.
But it recently emerged that a local marketing company had been commissioned by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to look for potential sponsors to help fund the race's return.
And to Indianapolis radio station 1070 The Fan Radio, George sounded hopeful that the right financial backing could put the US grand prix back on track as early as 2009.
"We need to improve the financial performance of the event in order to justify bringing it back, and we won't do that without sponsorship," he said.
"We're talking to some folks that may have interest, and that could happen as early as 2009 if we can go to Bernie with a proposal," George added.
03/19/08 Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and CEO Tony George is planning to bring Formula 1 back to the Speedway in the summer of 2009. The race was lost this year because George and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone could not agree terms for a new deal, with a rumored $7m difference between what George was willing to pay and what Ecclestone was hoping to get.
In recent days, however, the Indiana-based marketing firm Just Marketing has been hired by the IMS to help sign a title sponsor for the F1 race. There are rumored to have been talks between the F1 authorities and the cities of Las Vegas and Miami, but Indianapolis remains the only purpose-built track in the United States that is suited to F1, without the need for major upgrading work. A deal thus can be done quickly and so there is potential to put the race back on the calendar in 2009. Grandprix.com
03/06/08 Negotiations are heating up between Formula One and Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials that could bring F1 racing back to Indianapolis in 2009. Speedway boss Tony George told an audience at yesterday’s IU Business Conference that he’d like to bring Formula One back in time for the Brickyard’s centennial celebration. The facility opened in 1909.
Just Marketing, an Indianapolis-based firm that pairs sponsors with motorsports properties, has been hired by the IMS to help sign a title sponsor for the F1 race. Just Marketing President Zak Brown said F1 czar Bernie Ecclestone and the series’ existing sponsors have a “strong interest" in returning.
“I know there’s been talk of having an F1 race at Las Vegas or Miami, but the Speedway is the only facility in the U.S. that is up to F1 standards," Brown said. “Indianapolis is turnkey and ready to go. If the right sponsors can be put into place, I think this can happen in 2009."
Brown said he and George had private meetings with potential sponsors late last year, and those discussions are progressing. Brown called interest among companies willing to fork over an eight-figure sum for a multi-year title sponsorship “fairly high."
“I think F1 will come back," Brown said. “At this point, I think it’s a matter of when, not if." Indy Business Journal