In motorsports, does 1+1=3?

February 28, 2008
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Does Gov. Mitch Daniels’ anointing of auto racing industry veteran Rollie Helmling as the state’s motorsports development director--or the unification of the Indy Racing League and Champ Car--create more motorsports business opportunities here? While state officials say yes, others in the industry aren’t as optimistic.

After all, most of the Champ Car teams are already located here, as are many of the suppliers who deal strictly with open-wheel racing in general and Champ Car in particular. Those businesses that deal with open-wheel and stock car racing that vacated Indiana for Charlotte during the last decade, probably aren’t coming back, at least not any time soon, said Mel Poole, a former CART front office worker who now operates a North Carolina-based motorsports sponsorship consultancy.

Motorsports experts think Indianapolis will reap a benefit, but it will take time. “If the Indy Racing League was a stock, I would issue a long-term buy,” Poole said.

Those in Daniels’ inner circle said Helmling, the former United States Auto Club boss and Tony George ally, has the credentials to maximize the benefit.

Do you think Helmling’s appointment will be the engine that drive’s Indiana’s motorsports growth?
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  • What did Rollie do for USAC? Not much, if you ask me.
  • I believe with Rollie joining IEDC he will be able to make available to all of the other local open wheel teams, and business that support the racing industry, other than the IRL, help they need to grow there respective business with some well needed economic incentives. Most people in the Motorsports Industry have no idea what economic incentives are available from either the State or City of Indianapolis.
  • He just about ran USAC into the ground. How anyone thought he could help the state is beyond me. If anything they needed to get someone with knowledge of the NHRA on board. That segment of the industry is ripe for large growth.

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