Indy may not bring back F1

UPDATE Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Joie Chitwood said Friday a statement regarding the future of Formula One's U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis will come next week with the distribution of refund checks for this year's race. All indications are the event will return in 2006. Indy Star 08/11/05 Two months after the embarrassment of the U.S. Grand Prix, Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials apparently aren't quite ready to forgive – or forget. Speedway president Joie Chitwood made it clear after Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard that he is still debating whether to bring the race back to Indianapolis for a seventh season. "It's important to us because we've made a huge investment in the sport by building the road course and adding the buildings to Gasoline Alley," Chitwood said. "But we have to decide what's in the best interest of our fans, the speedway and the city."

Chitwood acknowledged he has been discussing another race with F-1 officials but declined to characterize the talks or offer a timeline for an announcement. Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone contends there is still one more year on the current contract, although speedway officials would not confirm that.

"We have a contract with them, so I don't see any problem," Ecclestone said Monday. "From our point of view, we don't have a problem. Tony (George) and I are discussing another five years after that."

George lured F-1 to Indy in 2000 and his family still owns the track. But George turned over the day-to-day track operations in December, and Chitwood is more concerned about 2006 than the five years after that. What worries Chitwood is that the memories of this year's race will linger and depress turnout next year.

Ecclestone avoided placing blame on the F-1 brass, the teams or the speedway for the debacle, instead criticizing Michelin, which is now offering refunds to fans. "It would have been dangerous to run," Ecclestone said. "In hindsight, the more we looked at it the worse it was. Whatever the cure was, the side effects were worse." More at [Editor's Note: Tony George and his family would be far better off financially if they replace F1 with Champ Car on the road course at Indy. Champ Car's sanctioning fees are far less than Bernie charges for F1, and although the attendance might be off slightly, we doubt it would be down that much, meaning the Speedway could actually turn a profit instead of losing their shirt. Unfortunately, Tony George wants Champ Car dead, so that will never happen even though from a business perspective that is what they should do. It is interesting to note that Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe are willing to supply Cosworth engines to the IRL badged with whatever manufacturer, but Tony George won't do business with Champ Car, which says a lot about this ugly war.]

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