Bernard hoping for 70,000 for IndyCar’s Vegas finale

UPDATE #2 Curt Cavin reports in the Indy Star he was told that at 90 minutes before the start there were more than 17,000 tickets scanned. So perhaps 20,000 or so attended, up from our 15,000 estimate, but still far below the 70,000 Randy Bernard was hoping for.

10/24/11 Only about 15,000 fans showed up for IndyCar's finale in Las Vegas despite the free ticket giveaway, but at least the race drew higher than normal TV ratings, so from that respect it was a success. However, despite IndyCar and the track announcing an IndyCar return to the Vegas oval in 2012, this Las Vegas motorsports writer thinks the race will never happen. The best thing that could happen would be that the race to move to the Vegas strip a year early instead of 2013 like Randy Bernard was planning for.

10/14/11 Izod IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard said that “series-run promotional efforts" for the Izod IndyCar World Championships in Las Vegas Sunday “are paying off in a big way," according to Anthony Schoettle of the Indianapolis Business Journal. Bernard predicts 70,000 fans "will attend the race, and added that 117 of 121 luxury suites have been sold for the event."

He said that the suites “are selling for between $22,000 and $35,000, and he expects the remaining inventory to be sold out" by Friday. Bernard said that attracting a "good crowd is key for series and team sponsors that pay most of the bills."

Bernard: “There’s a real buzz building about the race here. I’m very optimistic about this weekend." Schoettle noted Bernard tried to “lure drivers from other series to come to the race to take on IndyCar’s best" as part of the $5M Go Daddy IndyCar Challenge, but there was "limited response" despite the financial incentive. Bernard “settled on offering a bonus to Dan Wheldon, who won the Indianapolis 500 this year, but does not have a full-time ride." Meanwhile, for the first time this year, IndyCar execs in Las Vegas “are renting the track and handling all promotions and operations for the race."

Bernard said that other than the Indianapolis 500, “there have only been one or two other races in its history that the IndyCar Series or Indy Racing League has taken over."

In this setup, IndyCar “will get to keep all of the profits — if there are any — or shoulder all of those loses." Bernard said officials have “bought 1,600 radio and television ads as well as numerous billboard spots to promote the event in the Las Vegas area." Series officials also are “advertising the event in Indianapolis and other racing hotbeds"

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