Star-studded sports car race could kick off month of May at Indy

August 14, 2013
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Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles has a lot on his mind as the MotoGP caravan rolls into Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week.

First, Miles has to decide if the motorcycle event is profitable enough to bring back for another year. Though IMS has a deal to host the race through 2014, Speedway officials have a short window after this year’s race concludes Sunday to back out of the final year of that deal.

Including a seven-figure sanctioning fee and the cost of bringing in all the racing motorcycles and other gear (much from overseas), the Speedway pays about $5 million to put on the race. It’s no longer clear if IMS makes enough money to cover those expenses let alone generate enough profit to make the venture worthwhile.

Miles also must decide what to do with the sports car race that this year ran the Friday before the Brickyard 400. And that actually may be the more critical decision Miles has to make—for several reasons.

Last year, NASCAR acquired the American Le Mans Series and is merging it with its own sports car circuit, the Grand Am Series.

NASCAR executive Jim France is lobbying Miles to make a race for the newly merged United Sport Car circuit a stand-alone event at the Speedway during its inaugural season in 2014. Sources familiar with the discussions say France has suggested the sports car race be held in place of the MotoGP during late summer or early fall.

But there’s another—maybe even more intriguing—possibility.

France, sources said, is also willing to consider holding a United Sports Car race at IMS in May. France and Speedway officials have discussed holding a sports car race on the Speedway’s road course in early May as a way to kick-off a racing-filled month.

Both sides want a true endurance race (six hours or more) and think it could be an ideal way to launch the run up to the Indy 500 the way the Rolex 24 at Daytona kicks off festivities leading up to the Daytona 500 NASCAR race. If Miles adds lights to IMS as he’s indicated he will, the sports car race would have greater scheduling and format flexibility.

Sports car racing features cars made by the likes of Porshe, BMW, Ferrari and Mazda. The cars have features such as fendered chassis like a NASCAR and the wings more commonly seen on an IndyCar.

Since NASCAR and the IMS/IndyCar Series would be heavily invested in the event in May, there would likely be a number of NASCAR and IndyCar Series drivers racing head-to-head at the sports car race, along with a bevy of sports car racing veterans.

The idea is intriguing for Speedway officials looking to bolster activities during a month that once made Indy the epicenter of racing, but has faded in recent years with a pared down practice schedule and ho-hum bump day activities for the 500.

NASCAR officials love the idea because demographics of sports car racing and the IndyCar Series are a close match. Not only would the move lift the sports car race out of its unenviable afternoon time slot the Friday before Sunday’s Brickyard 400 and add some star power to the event, but it also would place it in front of an audience much more eager to see it.

Speedway officials like the idea because sports marketers believe such a star-studded sports car race could draw as many or more fans than the MotoGP race. And since the sanctioning fee and logistical costs to bring in the U.S.-based sports car series would be much lower than for the European-based MotoGP, the Speedway could hold a stand-alone sports car race for a fraction of the cost as the motorcycle event.

But who knows? If the sports car race is scheduled in early May, who’s to say the Speedway couldn’t also hold the MotoGP race in August?

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  • Resume attached
    Hi Mark - I would like to join your team to grow IMS's market position for the next couple of decades. Please advise as to when we can meet to discuss......I love IMS and want it to flourish. Thanks - Racerhead
  • Which NASCAR Drivers?
    A sports car race held the first weekend in May would occur the same weekend as NASCAR Talladega race...so exactly which NASCAR drivers would be racing at IMS as the article states?
  • Early May?
    The weather in early May is iffy at best. Usually cool and lots of rain. A race in place of the MotoGP makes more sense
  • Can you read?
    Darren, no where in the blog post does it say the sports car race will take place the first weekend in May. It says "early May." I believe there are other options on the calendar besides the very first weekend in May. If Jim France is pitching the idea, I'm sure he's well aware of the NASCAR calendar.
  • Yep he can read
    Matt, Darren is correct. He may have read between the lines and seen the truth. Spin in motorsports occurs more on press releases than it does in the rev of the crankshaft. Typically there is complete overlap between the schedules. I believe the author to be more incorrect. What really should have been reported is the stars that run in a NASCAR sanctioned sport would be running. Not the NASCAR stars. NASCAR will do whatever THEY want to do though because they run the show.
  • Yes to 6-hour race!
    Great idea! Holding a petite LeMans race at the IMS would attract a whole different audience of racing fans. I went to the Rolex ALMS races the past two years and the racing was great with more passing than ever in F1...or in the Brickyard 400.
  • Awful Idea
    This is an awful idea. Why does IMS continue to do business with an organization (NASCAR) that is trying to bury them?
    • Great Cars, Questionable Track
      Hi: As one who devoted his career to the preservation of history taking place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and most specifically the Indianapolis 500, I have to agree with those who, well, just don't like the road course at IMS. If you look 'round the world we see the successful road courses have elevation change.It's difficult enough trying to watch the Indy 500 with all the obstructions, and the road course hasn't excited our senses even with competitive equipment on it. Personally, I'd hold car shows and swap meets, rock n' roll concerts and spiritual gatherings. They built a proper road course in Austin, Texas and nowadays anything less doesn't measure up.
    • Sideshows
      An endurance race on the road course early in May might be OK as long as IndyCars do not run the road course. That would devalue the main event in May. Personally the off track entertainment at the track is almost as important these days as cars on the track.
    • The Dipsicle has never
      cared about the cars on the track,,,,or the racing for that matter.
    • doubleheader
      Mumblin' Miles is missing out here. There needs to be a doubleheader on the roadcourse on the first week of May. The fans really turned out for them in Detroit and Toronto! Disciple is wrong and is ust a "place and tardition fan" He does not get how this will bring in money to the speedway.Time to get over it and bring naming rights and new races to boost the week and 2 days of May.
    • Agree!!
      Awful idea...IMS is clueless.
    • My endorsement
      I fully support the Speedways decision to pimp the physical speedway to anyone that can lose them money. Face it, the proprietors are desperate for $$$ to keep the IRL folly afloat. Rather than make Indycar sexy and fast to attract fans they need to parasite off other series popularity for survival. Pathetic and sad. Mark Miles, you've alienated fans and sponsors with this tripe, why don't you attack the real problem? Free tip for ya bud....Speedway Speedweeks! Take two weeks of May and run every series on IMS you can find. ARCA, NASCAR, USAC, WoO, DIRT, strictly Stockers, Kart, slot cars, USCR, F1, MotoGP, Cox 0.49 cars, Legends, boats, golf caddies....it'll sell like hot cakes! Go forgot dude, sky's the limit.
    • Death, Taxes and Cockroaches
      Is it merely the mention of IndyCars in a blog that draws the obsessed out of the woodwork like clockwork to craft juvenile, inane comments or something else? Either way, I am certain IndyCar appreciates its most rabid (potentially a literal description) fans.
    • Burl here..
      ..and only because I know my opinion is respected, sought, and giver much consideration. So I will chime in with a "no" on the road course. In fact, tear it out and make the place more park-like. Peopel just don't care about sporty cars and NASCAR is a-gunna learnt that one the hard way. Yeah, boy.
    • I'm sure
      the France family will be able to incorporate the road course into the design of the Tri-oval
    • Marketing
      If IMS and Indycar would like to learn something about marketing, which they desperately need to do. Start by going to the Grand Prix of Baltimore's website. Killer packaging.
    • This thread
      is approved by the husband of a Marion County elected official.
    • Sports Car Racing IMS
      IMS needs to understand that there is an untapped fan base that are huge followers of sportscar racing. They also need input from people with knowledge, outside IMS corporate employees, on how to advertise for these types of races. Their employees have no idea how to put on events, last year Grand am for club parking was a joke and very unorganized with many people upset. Visit Mid Ohio road course, They know how to put on an event.
    • The Curving Road Toward Failure
      Mark Miles has publicly stated there will be no sports cars in May to kick off the month. So scratch that off your list. He says it is likely IndyCars will kick off the month of May on the road course, which I believe is a huge mistake. It won't get people to spend more time or money at the track and both events will be diluted. We've tried a non-oval heavy schedule in the past, and history shows such a schedule is doomed to fail 100% of the time. They need to worry about putting an oval or two (like Phoenix) ahead of the 500 each year. Miles is being influenced way too much by the same self interested fools that have been trying to kill the sport for thirty years. Enough is enough. IndyCar is not Formula 1 and should stop trying to pretend they can be.
    • If the Dipsicle
      had fallen in love with the World Series, MLB would be in dire straits today.
    • Who's actually in control?
      Disciple, are you basically saying no one is in control at IMS? Whenever something you seemingly do not like occurs, you always start blaming it on things like "the same self interested fools that have been trying to kill the sport for thirty years." Who is in control at IMS? I thought it was the George family. Wasn't one of the whole ideas behind Tony Jr's move to control the sport was to actually control the sport? Amazing, they run the show and they still can't control it. What does that say? Sorry, you can keep trying to pass the buck to 'cart' and 'champcar' owners. 17 years since the second split, 8 years of total control after the merger. The buck stops with IMS and the Georges. They allowed Junior to run it, they put Bernard in, they brought Miles as the Sports Marketing Savior. It's theirs.
    • I was always told if
      you can't say something nice, don't say anything. I think it is nice that the Speedway is being drug down by The Dipsicle's support of TOney's boondoggle
    • Obsession: More Than a Stinky Perfume
      Jake's creepy obsession with every word I type aside, Carter also makes some giant leaps of stereotype. "Disciple, are you basically saying no one is in control at IMS?" No. Mark Miles is the latest guy in charge. "Whenever something you seemingly do not like occurs, you always start blaming it on things like 'the same self interested fools that have been trying to kill the sport for thirty years.' Who is in control at IMS? I thought it was the George family." Uh, the George family OWNS the track (and ultimately the series). The day-to-day management falls to Mark Miles and his team. "Wasn't one of the whole ideas behind Tony Jr's move to control the sport was to actually control the sport? Amazing, they run the show and they still can't control it. What does that say?" It says Mark Miles is allowing himself to be unduly influenced by Euro-centric road racing enthusiasts without regard for history and the approaches that have failed multiple times. "Sorry, you can keep trying to pass the buck to 'cart' and 'champcar' owners. 17 years since the second split, 8 years of total control after the merger. The buck stops with IMS and the Georges. They allowed Junior to run it, they put Bernard in, they brought Miles as the Sports Marketing Savior. It's theirs." One hallmark of those who are militantly pro-cart and whose only frame of reference post-dates 1979 is knee-jerk defensiveness whenever anything that could even remotely be construed as a slam on two of the series that did, in actual fact, die is uttered anywhere. The issues with which we must deal today have little to do with cart. They have been dead and gone for a long time. My big problem is a giant imbalance in scheduling in favor of non-ovals. I want a true balance. I do not want another futile attempt to try and make a form of racing popular in this country that has never been accepted by the mainstream long term. As long as people like Dan Anderson are going to be allowed to purge ovals to please road racers, and owners hire formula specialists from abroad, and the venue imbalance continues being top heavy with twisties I will continue urging common sense and respect for history. It may not do any good, but someone needs to speak up. There are plenty of great choices to allow ten ovals, five natural terrain road courses and five festivals o' speed. 50/50. That makes IndyCar more unique and versatile than anything else, could be an inspired marketing theme and would attract a great cross section of casual fans. IMHO it is high time for IndyCar to quit screwing around and kowtowing to owners who have a proven history of failure where running a series is concerned.
    • Dude
      nobody reads your diatribes
    • There he goes again...
      Disciple I made no defensive reference to CART or Champcar. I was asking you why YOU keep bringing them in. Call my wording defensive, I'll call yours offensive, because you are blaming people that have no control. You keep falling back on CART and Champcar owners and teams as your well-worn default excuse for things you do not like. That is your offense, blame everyone and anyone but those where the buck stops. My point is, if there is something you do not like, blame it on IMS and Indycar and the family that runs it. You might try for once to follow your own advice. Move on. Orient yourself in this new era and if it is not what you like, then try to put the blame where it resides. Its pretty obvious to anyone not still blaming something that happened over 8 years ago that Miles must be deciding the schedule is what it is with input from the family and all the others like Derrick Walker, etc. Just like Bernard did, just like Tony Jr. did. Grow up. The more time goes on, the more pathetic your excuse. At this rate, nothing will ever change because the ghost of Roger Penske will still be mucking things up long after he is gone. Maybe we now know why you've changed your identity to Disciple instead of Defender. Maybe you can no longer defend what IMS and the George family is doing.
    • I luv it
      The mere fact the Hulman GOergEs are diluting indy into irrelevancy is AWESOME! A poor road course + uglomobiles = over saturated muck no one wants or needs. Once again, the Speedway answers the question no one ever asked. And the funny part is the car owners have nothing to do with it!
    • Their Reading Comprehension Skills Have Not Improved
      Blaming any real or perceived problem in IndyCar on the Hulman-George family is as clueless as blaming Jewish people for the holocaust. Kids, concentrate on the heart of the issue: current team owners, Derrick Walker, Dan Anderson and the current actual leadership of the series that keeps enabling these self interested fools with track records of proven failure.
    • Clarification needed
      Clearly your place-fan intoxication levels are very high with that statement. Are you saying the Hulman-George family is innocent, they have no control over the sport they spent $900+ million on over the past 18 years to get control over? Are you saying their hand picked lackeys and yes men are the problem? If so, you are more delusional that even your most insanely delusional rants have been. Please explain your commentary.
    • Pointless Interaction
      Look...out of one side your (Indy-hating, obsessed malcontents that refuse to budge from 1995) mouths depending on the straw man you are stupidly trying to create ANY member of the Hulman-George family, especially Anton, has difficulty speaking and standing at the same time. Out of the other they are the sinister masterminds who 'destroyed' the sport. Given the facts that your credibility has been non-existent for eighteen years as well as any sort of reading comprehension skills (as evidenced by the laughable stereotyping you concoct), there really is no point in trying to explain anything to your kind. You have never returned such a courtesy, even when the same simple questions are asked of you repeatedly. You need to earn the right to engage in adult communication. The Hulman-George family has always approached its business interests privately, passively and without fanfare. Now, for better or worse, they have handed the keys to the kingdom over to a group of people who seem ignorant about the big picture of their responsibility. They are being heavily influenced by a small group of people who have their own interests in mind and not the good of the sport as a whole. I actually wish the Hulman-Georges would exert more control, but they may be incapable. The foxes have assumed control of the hen house.
    • Been trying to say that...
      So, those that own the keys hand them over to folks they have absolutely no control over. Disciple admits the family may be incapable of exerting control over what they own. And people wonder why there are problems. I guess those auto racing fans that have been trying to say the family is incapable of running a racing series were right all along. And even though Disciple will frame it as such, that has not one thing to do with 1995, CART, Champcar or any team owners from those long past sanctioning bodies. This is a clear and present problem. Note: I am not saying they can't run a track, though even Disciple seems to have problems with their ability to do that too.
    • Another Swing and a Miss
      Once again, a giant leap of stereotype. Those who claim the HGs are incapable of running a racing series always conveniently forget IndyCar has continued non-stop under their ownership while series not owned by HG family members actually DID fail. Twice. Now I actually may agree with some of the critics in questioning the direction under that family, but that is not as potentially damaging as allowing owners or their representatives into any decision making roles.
    • Who
      Ok, if you're gonna foist your continual delusions upon us here, name names. When the ICONIC committee was assembled, who did that? Who responsible? When Brian Barnhart was fired yet continued to be a VP of Operations, who's responsible? When someone signed the great VerSus contract, who's responsible? When trying to attract CART teams and racers who added road and street courses? Who's responsible for that? And, who's responsible for the loss of many many ovals (like up to 25+ plus now), some as many and twice or three times now. Who's responsible for that? Who was responsible for the IC02 car that maimed so many drivers and claimed the lives of many YET never moth-balled as a death trap? Who was responsible for putting 33+ cars on the Las Vegas oval? Who's responsible for that? They ought to stop giving such responsibility to fenceposts. Hey, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Who's responsible, come on, I dare you.
    • Playing Along With The Kids
      "When the ICONIC committee was assembled, who did that? Who responsible?" Randy Bernard. "When Brian Barnhart was fired yet continued to be a VP of Operations, who's responsible?" Randy Bernard. "When someone signed the great VerSus contract, who's responsible?" Tony George. A deal ahead of its time. "When trying to attract cart teams and racers who added road and street courses? Who's responsible for that?" Former cart participants that helped bankrupt their own series, twice, then slithered into IndyCar to try and remake the series they killed. "And, who's responsible for the loss of many many ovals (like up to 25+ plus now), some as many and twice or three times now. Who's responsible for that?" Mostly ex-cart team owners who want to recreate an American version of Formula One. "Who was responsible for the IC02 car that maimed so many drivers and claimed the lives of many YET never moth-balled as a death trap?" Dallara. And thanks so much for your touching concern. Sincerely, Jeff Krosnoff, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Greg Moore and Alex Zanardi. "Who was responsible for putting 33+ cars on the Las Vegas oval? Who's responsible for that?" Randy Bernard. "They ought to stop giving such responsibility to fenceposts. Hey, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Who's responsible, come on, I dare you." Most of the answers to your silly, frivolous, merit deprived questions seem to be Randy Bernard. And they fired him. But...let me guess. That's not good enough, huh? LOL.
    • Who hired Randy Bernard?
      Who hired Randy? Who hired Tony George? Who made the IRL? You know, you very succinctly made my point. The sport which so desperately needed leadership doesn't have any. The root cause of the failure of this sport is squarely on the shoulders of the inept family that controls it. 0.1 tv ratings from $900+ millions. Awesome.
    • Your Turn
      So you hate Josie George now. Splendid. Now that I have so graciously answered your quaint little questions, how about answering mine? Please provide your accounting of this supposed loss, which has mysteriously gone from about $600 million a couple of years ago to $900 million today. You know, something an accountant might recognize. Heck before you know it this fantasy accounting of yours will be at a billion. It's amazing what you can come up with when relying only on imagination. Nowthen...this inept family about which you remain obsessed. Who would be better suited for that role? Not owners. They have already failed. Twice.
    • Come on now
      You can't say it, can you? Who's responsible? For the rust, for the lack of ovals, for 25/8, for the sewage in the bathrooms, for Racin Gardner, for Dr. Jack, for the green flag on the wet oval, for everything. Is it Josie? Or is it Mari? or Tony? Or Miles? Or Gene Simmons? Or Billy Boat? Or Ricky Treadway? Or Leo Mehl? I will provide only one detail regarding the money...the person (or persons) responsible for the 18 year AOW fiasco haven't made a penny on the series. Certainly a deal ahead of it's time, no doubt.
    • Patience Is A Virtue
      "You can't say it, can you?" I probably could give you your 'A' answer if I a) was plagued by the type of sheer ignorance unique to obsessed Internet squatters whose myopia is self-limited to a Mark David Chapman-like focus on the Hulman-George family and/or b) claimed never to watch any of it but pretended on the Internet to know more about it than anyone, mostly to make cockamamie arguments that make no sense. "Who's responsible? For the rust," Doug Boles and Jeff Belskus. "for the lack of ovals," mostly road racing-centric former cart owners. "for 25/8," cart for about 95%. "for the sewage in the bathrooms," Doug Boles and Jeff Belskus. "for Racin Gardner, for Dr. Jack," cart owners that boycotted and opened the door for drivers not previously given a chance. By the way...timely references there, Chief. LOL. Not only do you know more about IndyCar present day than anyone, you also seem to be a Donald Davidson-level historian. "for the green flag on the wet oval," Brian Barnhart. "for everything." If you are a religious person, the Almighty. "Is it Josie?" No. But what a great Steely Dan song. "Or is it Mari?" She is the daughter of the original Anton and birthed the current generation. It's being watered down these days by Krisiloffs and such, but to your kind should that not be a good thing? "or Tony?" Haven't seen much of him lately, except in Ed's pit. "Or Miles?" He's running the whole show today. "Or Gene Simmons?" Your scattershot approach of names seems schizophrenic. Gene has not been involved with IndyCar for quite some time. Most recently he purchased an Arena Football League team for LA. "Or Billy Boat?" Former 500 pole sitter now runs a highly successful exhaust business and has a son being turned away from IndyCar by the same kind of owners/brick walls his talented father did. "Or Ricky Treadway?" Acting like a Hoosier on a boat on Geist last I heard. "Or Leo Mehl?" Retired before most of you kids were born. "I will provide only one detail regarding the money...the person (or persons) responsible for the 18 year AOW fiasco haven't made a penny on the series." Again, any sort of accounting for this supposed claim? I would appreciate hearing your keen insight into Hulman family finances without the sweeping generalization. Thanks in advance.
    • If C^RT
      had gotten into the baking powder business, TOney would have destroyed Clabber Girl as well
    • Bad Analogy
      Salient fact the obsessed critics often overlook: IndyCar, like Clabber Girl, is an ongoing entity. cart is actually out of business and dead. Twice. I suspect that had they entered the baking powder business they might have attempted snorting it instead of managing it and would have ended up out of business in that endeavor as well. Sometimes in the twisted world of youthful enthusiasts facts get bent.
    • Hulman Companies out of control?
      Disciple makes good points. No one is in control of Hulman Company, so it can be concluded that the company itself is responsible for the sad state of AOW. Great job...keep spending the taxpayer $$$$ on a losing horribly managed solution. Oh, $800M to $900+M because of the taxpayer subsidy. Oh, and the building of the F1 course, the renovations of Pigoda, and a no money making IRL series for 18 years +. $900Million, easy.
    • Chip & Roger
      spending the Family's money for 12 years now

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