Signs of growth at Indy 500 quals

May 11, 2008
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newmanpWhile the second day of qualifications was largely washed out, there were strong signs the Indy Racing League is in a growth mode during the first day of qualifications Saturday. There were also some signs that the newly reunified open-wheel racing series has some growing to do.

Though Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IRL officials don’t release official attendance figures, motorsports observers said attendance for the first day of qualifications was up 10 percent to 15 percent from last year, with a crowd of 55,000 to 60,000 on hand. While merchandise trailers were busy—especially Danica Patrick’s—there were still plenty of empty seats in the cavernous facility, which according to published reports seats near 300,000.

IRL and IMS boss Tony George held court with about a dozen reporters from some of the nation’s biggest daily newspapers, talking about unification and the series’ recent growth.

But while George had some positive points to spin, attendance trackers said Saturday’s attendance still was only about half of what it was before Champ Car/CART and the IRL had their acrimonious split in the mid 1990s.

But George might have made peace with one of his biggest critics, movie star and part-owner of the  Newman/Haas team, Paul Newman. Just two years ago, Newman said he’d never be part of the IRL or Indianapolis 500. But not only is Newman’s team trying to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, there are some signs that his relationship with George is thawing.

Saturday, Newman took part in a press conference in support of The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, one of the Speedway’s pet charities, which serves children with life-threatening illnesses.

“There are a couple of things I have great affection for. One of those is automobile racing,” Newman said Saturday. “The other is to care in some ways for kids who have been less fortunate than I have. And to be able to have this coming together of two organizations working together to that purpose is a home run for me. That Tony (George) has chosen to bring his organization is just stunning to me. It’s an amalgamation on two fronts now.”
  • Crowds I saw Saturday looked solid. It's a shame Sunday was washed out. I think they would have had another solid crowd had the weather cooperated. Still way too many empty seats though ... they still have work to do.
  • One small step ... but at least it's a step forward. Now let's see what happens the rest of this month and on race day. Sponsors will be looking for trends, not one-day results.

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  1. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

  2. Great news IRL fans: TURBO the IMS sanctioned movie about slugs running the Indy 500 has caught the Securities and Exchange Commission because Dreamworks had to take a $132MILLION write down...because the movie was such a flop. See, the Indy/IMS magic soiled another pair of drawers. Bwahahahahahaha! How's CARTOWN doing? HAHAHAHA...Indy is for losers.

  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

  4. I read the retail roundup article and tried Burritos and Beers tonight. I'm glad I did, for the food was great. Fresh authentic Mexican food. Great seasoning on the carne asada. A must try!!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...