IMS IndyCar road race seen as threat to Indy 500

June 19, 2012
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Minus a miraculous change of heart, the IndyCar Series is not going to be racing on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course this season.

It would seem that the road course would be an easy solution after the open-wheel series’ race in China was cancelled earlier this month. That cancellation leaves the series one race short of meeting some sponsor commitments—most notably with title sponsor Izod—to have 16 races on its calendar.

It would seem the series has a 2.6-mile road track in Indianapolis ready to go, a work force in place to host a race and a solid fan base to fill if not all the seats, then at least 75,000 or so. That’s a good-size paying crowd these days for an IndyCar race. And there would be a high curiosity factor for an IndyCar road race at Indy, which would likely generate highly sought national publicity for the series and Speedway. I’m quite certain officials at series broadcast partners ABC or NBC would salivate over the opportunity to televise the first IndyCar road race at the Brickyard.

Speedway officials told IBJ on Monday that there would be no logistical problem hosting an IndyCar road race at the Speedway later this summer or fall despite having NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 and the MotoGP slated this year.

So what’s the holdup?

For one, there’s simply not enough time for Speedway officials to market such an event the way they’d like. If IMS officials are going to risk hosting a second IndyCar race, they certainly don’t want to put it together hastily. Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus and his team would insist on a well-planned, professionally executed, and most importantly, well-marketed event.

Having 75,000 fans at an IndyCar race in most markets is reason for celebration. At the gargantuan Indianapolis Motor Speedway, that sort of crowd makes the race look poorly attended. And IMS and IndyCar officials would take a beating in the media for that. Sure, there’s a chance that as many as 150,000 fans would pour into Speedway for such an event. But the place would still be half empty. The curators of that facility are hyper sensitive about the Brickyard’s image.

It’s also important to remember that no decision is made at 16th and Georgetown without considering the impact on the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

There’s a fear at IMS headquarters that a second IndyCar race at the Speedway could dilute the fan base for the track’s crown jewel, the Indianapolis 500.

There’s good reason for that fear. The Indy 500 is the one event that has been a dependable cash cow for better than six decades.

It stands to reason—especially in this economy—that a good number of race fans might attend an IndyCar road race at IMS in lieu of the Indianapolis 500. It’s taken a fair bit of work on the part of the Speedway to get Indy 500 attendance headed back up, and they’re in no mood to rob Peter to pay Paul.

So it’s really no surprise that Speedway officials told IBJ on Monday that not only would there be no IndyCar Series race at the fabled brickyard this year, but likely not in 2013 or beyond either.

While one Speedway official said you "never say never" when it comes to something like an IndyCar road race at the Speedway, he added "there's absolutely no discussion about it at this time. And I'd be surprised if that discussion came up anytime soon."

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  • Don't forget about the Brickyard
    Don't forget that another, road course race could impact some ticket buying decisions for the Brickyard 400. Even though it's NASCAR, a lot of Hoosiers could go either way.
  • So IMS won't throw something together hastily
    but they expect another track owner to do it? "Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus and his team would insist on a well-planned, professionally executed, and most importantly, well-marketed event." But indycar thinks other tracks would be different?
  • Indy 500 ONLY
    The Speedway already diluted and damaged the uniqueness of IMS and Indianapolis 500 by holding other races at the Speedway. Havinf a Brickyard 400 was a mistake. Building the road course was a mistake. Having sports car and motorcycle races....a mistake. IMS always was and is about the Indy 500. All the other stuff in forgetable. What they need to do is drop the other races and focus on making the Indianapolis 500 the one and only, ultimate event. At the most, I can see a 100-,iler Lights race there because it has to do with the Indy 500 as the ultimate goal. Anythign else, simply does not belong. It gave the impression to the average, every day, ordinary sports fan or person on the street that IMS is just another race track and the Indy 500 was a stodgy, old event that could no longer justify IMS. It was a short-sighted disaster doing what they did. Turn the road course into access roads and see it for the potential to enhance and increase the "infield" experience at Indy in some manner. IMS is and always will about the Indy 500. As for a 16th race...I don' think it is going to happen at all, because IZOD is gone at the end of the year. It will be settled by lawyers not race car dirvers.
  • Everyone knows
    the Indy 500 fans' entire race season is one Sunday afternoon in May. If this road race isn't held on the last Sunday in May, the Indy 500 fans won't even know of its existence
  • And that is why
    Randy Bernard has no chance of building a vibrant series because the Indy 500 fans don't care. He should go read a white paper.
  • Indycar on IMS road course
    Back in the 70's, USAC ran the Indy Cars at IRP's 2 1/2 mile road course and no one came. Except me and maybe 5000 others:) Indycars at the Speedway in May only. Thank you
  • well, make someone else look bad
    You think the IMS wont do a good job and that it wont be profitable and top notch?? Come on Jeff B. ! Their wont be much use for 16th and Georgetown if the series doesnt continue to improve and this 1 year fix would be seen as a GREAT olive branch in helping the series and making IMS look even better. My man Ryan in sales would shoot emails to his clients and ask them first if they want their seats or any others then it would be good. for God Sakes close sections of the tack seats down too. Someone who is in the C level at IMS and the series along with the board and car owners and sponsors better take a look at this and see what an opportunity it is and dont commit to more then this year but for sure cover your back side and negotiate a 16 or 17 race calendar for 2013 and then your okay. This is a opportunity for the series that I know some in there are saying is just what the doctor ordered for this year to remedy the problems that have happened. Forward this to the powers at be and sleep on it - ask Nascar what two Daytona races does to them, its down some but the crown jewel their 500 is still coming back getting more people and the racing there is terrible to be honest!! cmon - how can this hurt the series or the reputation of the IMS or its hierarchy- you are thinking TOO MUCH here!!
  • How Does Churchill Downs Do It?
    The Kentucky Derby is often compared to the Indianapolis 500 as the horse racing equivalent to 500. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, they manage to hold other horse races there without diluting the Derby. Daytona Motor Speedway manages to have the Daytona 500 as well as the Firecracker 400. Is it not about time for the IMS to get creative and figure out how to make an event like this work, rather than to make excuses. Indycar needs something to give it a boost. Since there do not seem to be enough oval tracks to give the series even a 50/50 split of events, Indycar and the IMS had better figure out a formula to generate interest in running the road course here without diluting to 500
  • IMS road track is a joke
    The road course is an uninspiring strip of asphalt. Where can you even see the cars on the twisties? From the front stretch? No. The road course isn't a threat to the 500, it's just IMS's crazy uncle who lives in the attic.
  • Reply to Burl.
    Well, Burl, you've certainly prooved you are a one-eyed, selfish, narrow-minded, short-sighted, thoughtless, person! And obviously not a true motorsports enthusiast! What do you do for the rest of the year, watch recordings of your beloved Indy 500? Well us true fans enjoy other forms of racing especially when the cars actually go right as well as left and accelerate and brake and change gears too! PK (NZ)
  • Ever real race fans knows
    the onliest time you're supposed to turn right at Indy is when your leaving your pitbox. And even then only a little right.
  • Reply to Paul Kirk
    Paul, thank you for the mature response, full of wisdom and such. How's this for a suggestion: There are numerous left, right, left, gear-shifting tracks around the world to pleasure yourself with. They were built specifically for such racing. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built as a 2.5 mile oval, a 500-mile race held annually since 1911, save the war years. The entire existence of the facility is because of this simple fact. And yes, about the only motor race I truly care about is the Indianapolis 500. Indeed. It is is unique and special in ways too difficult for the twisty-turn set to grasp, including some past winners. But luckily, for every one of them we can find converts such as the late Dan Wheldon or Eddie Cheever, or people who made their living turning left and became legends in the process such as AJ Foyt, Tom Sneva, etcetera...who define the Indianapolis 500 and personify the IMS. Differing opinions here Paul, but your lack of maturity makes that a difficult digestion. I understand that. At teh end of the day, the mere mention of the "Indianapolis", in whatever context it is being spoken, is instantly associated with "The Indianapolis 500." That should never be lost upon the care-takers of the Speedway and the event. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is indeed, the Indianapolis 500. Anything else taking place there is both a short-sighted business decision of opportunity and an unwelcome intruder to those who see the forest for the trees. And stop making comparisons to other facilities such as Churchill Downs or Daytona International Speedway, stick and balls sports, etcetera...comparisons often betray the champion as weak in relevance. Again, for simple primer all can understand: Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Home of the "500" Mile Race. Indianapolis Motor Speedway = Indianapolis 500. Indianapolis 500 - held annually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Pretty simple, straightfoward. Repeat mantra. Got it? For twisties, see niche sports car series such as the SCCA and international events like Monaco, Bathhurst, Macau, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Sebring, etcetera...there are plenty of options for your enjoyment. If you do not like the Indianapolis 500 and/or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, look elsewhere. IMS=Indianpolis 500. Nothign more, nothing less.
    • Oval???
      For Burl and the others that call Indianapolis Motor Speedway an oval. Yes, it is often referred to as an oval...but really is it? When looked at from above it is more a square with rounded corners and has no resemblance to an oval like Daytona, Michigan, etc. But what I find the most fun with the layout of Indy is when Sir Jack Brabham and Colin Chapman lead the charge of the foreigners with their rear engined 'funny cars' they found their success by approaching the track as a sports car track with straight-a-ways and turns. Just like a sports car course with no right turns. Many engineers even say that the four turns are approached differently as they are all slightly different. I guess the point being...Indy really isn't a pure oval. It is it's own unique entity. And that is another thing that makes it special. But really, it could be said that it is more sports car course than oval...but that makes the oval fanatics go a little crazy...and we all know how easy it is to upset their thinking! So, while all of you fight over oval version road course, I think I'll go with the ones who have had success on running the race course and probably find it funny that the fight over what it is rather pointless. And what is real interesting...Indy fits more into true diversity than it does fit into pure oval racing. So, maybe having some road courses to compliment it isn't really a bad thing overall. Maybe that is why Randy Bernard and the team owners see it ALL as racing and want the series to be CART-like. It fits that diversity. And Burl...what do you say to those fans that enjoy that diversity? Think maybe Indy should be dropped in favor of a true oval? Maybe Indy is a twisty without a lot of twists. And isn;t it rather strange that the the twisty drivers adapted to Indy better than many pure oval racers adapt to twisty racing. Maybe that fact makes Sir Jack and Colin and all the sports car types that have had success at Indy more right than wrong.
    • Big Picture
      Personally I do not wish to see an IndyCar race at IMS's road course because of its poor, "Mickey Mouse" layout. It did little to showcase F1 in its first 2 attempts there. But I disagree with your stance for one major reason. IMS cannot survive, profitably, on the proceeeds from the 500 alone. Though your mind is closed to concept of outside series using the Sacred Grounds, IMS requires them to remain solvent.
    • Carter's waste of time and Trish's misperception
      No, Indy is not a true "oval." We get that. We love Indy for what it is. It is not a "road course". We get that too. So, what a waste of your time, Carter. Another small mind, overthinking your abilities. YOu best not push the mental envelope ok? As for Trish, give me your insider hardball on IMS' books. Go ahead, give me some numbers. Once the financial mess TG created is resolved, the entire facility can sustain on the Indy 500 and Indy 500 alone, to include the various rentals and other non-competition racing incidentals the track has always made coin on. TG lived the excess of the days. Times change. Financially, with no inside baseball to go on (maybe you can enlighten us, Trish), it is my understanding IMS will do just fine as an Indy only one the TG cash mess has been put to bed. That is taking a lot of work. Greed made a nasty at IMS. Tiem to clean it up. Less is more.
    • Short thinking
      The only viable idea IS to run a one-off-this-season only race at IMS' road course. They have the infrastructure in place, they collect all money$ themselves (no sanctions), and also saves on travel. If anyone had one iota of marketing sense over at 16th and Jonestown they could hold this the first week of October and call it the "Indycar United States Gran Prix". For the love of Pete, if no one shows, who cares? They weren't gonna make money anyway. If 75,000 show, how is that gonna short circuit the 500? These are the same 75K who went to the F1 daze at Indy and it never impacted the goofy 500 then, why now? I'm sorry...this leegUe half-arses just about everything anyway so it would be expected they'd need a full season to prepare for a full-blown screwup. The management of IMS is so paralyzed and now paranoid of their own shadow that is it any wonder the Indycar series sucks and has no marketability? Take a chance Belskus, this may have an inadvertent way to bridge the AOW haters gap with the speedway while satisfying your own stupid leeGUes over-your-head scheduling gaff at Qingdao. WIN WIN for AOW, the speedway and the IRL. I will require a stipend for any further advise.
    • Burl spell check
      Burl - only when you spell halfway right do you come close to delivering your hairbrained messages!
    • Oh you are so smart Burl...
      So that is all you have Burl? Thanks for the put down. It is too bad you can't actually read and understand what I wrote. I never said Indy was a road course and was only pointing out to a typical oval loving Indy-centric that the engineers treat the Indy Speedway as a road course in car setup. Do you deny that? And, it is funny and ironic that the oval fans who don't like road racing do not seem to understand it. So, if anything I tried to make a lighthearted point to someone that is seemingly too dense and full of themselves to understand why I would make the point in the first place.
    • Here is a question for ya'
      Why have we not seen the Texas and Milwaukee TV ratings numbers? They must be dreadfully low, otherwise there is no doubt the Series would be pounding chest both races got strong ratings. Why are these numbers not out there? My guess is the Texas race, as whisper has it, got about a .10 rating. Milwaukee was upended by the Nationwide Series on ABC, with the rest of the rest of the race relegated to a low-tier cable outlet. The hotel I was staying at in L.A. did not have the low-tier, so the Milwaukee race went vaaamooshh!! into thin air and disappeared into outer space out there. Second largest TV market in the USA with a race later this Summer and blaaaammo! Gone for the stockers! Local L.A. Tv evening news, even an ABC, made NO mention of the the Milwaukee race, instead showing the Danica Patrick spins at Michigan. NO, ZERO, mention of the race. Nada. I had to look up the results in the newspaper the next day and even then, it was a small two or three paragraph recap in teh miscellanous-type section. In the second largest city in the USA, an international, world-class city, Indy Car seems hard to follow and barely noticeable. Fontana on Sept. 15 should have a nice crowd of 20,000, however. The TV rating will be test pattern. Time to see the Texas and Milwaukee rating numbers. The truth hurts. We can take it. Again,
    • I heard its gone to be
      a 1.0 0vernite for MWKE no final yet and 384,00 viewers for Texas which translate to somewhere between 0.15 to 0.2 something. VIBRANT I think is the word you are thinking of when you read them numbers
    • Adding to the sports misery...
      ...I am at Sonoma to attend the Sears Point (Infineon) NASCAR race Sunday. Today I have on my old school IRL t-shirt. A newspaper reporter for a NorCal paper happened to see me here this morning wearing it and asked what I though about the Indy 500 this year. I told him my thoughts and then he said, and I paraphrase but you get the gist, "I covered the Indy 500 and some IRL races. The drivers were great but their fan base is awful. They are such know-it-all geeks." Too funny. I told him I agree and we laughed. He couldn't think of the name of Trackforum but he mentioned he had visited it to get information a few years ago and called the posters there "distasteful." Funny! Almost as funny as when Danica told my Aunt Suzette at Milwaukee a few years ago the Trackfourm posters were "dorks" Ha! Meanwhile, this NASCAR weekend is shaping up to be a nice one. Love it out here!
    • O How I Miss the Days
      when IMS lackies and other IRL supporters would send letters and messages to cities telling them what a bad idea street races were. Where are those concerned fans now?
    • Plan B BUST
      Looks fatal....Plan B to replace the Qingdao race is a bust. No 16th race. THERE WAS NO PLAN B. Let's see here....on my Randy Bernard scorecard that scores as another "F" grade. When you combine it with the gutting of the sport, sanction fee-wise, this is really turning out to be a wash-out all around "F" grade for the rodeo boi. The departure of IZOD is also a stroke of genius for the masterful marketer Mr. Bernard. Good thing the sport will be televised on NBC Sport Network for 6 more years....Bwahahhahahaha!
    • Michigan Interested. Randy Not. Drivers are scared.
      Apparently MIS was interested in a race. Randy Bernard was not. A 16th race could have been held at MIS. Granted, the attendance may have been relatively small. And certainly there was precious little time to organize an event. But it could have been done and MIS was interested. I rather suspect one of the influences is driver input. And the current crop of drivers, most anyhow and certainly including this year's Indy 500 Winner, are frightened to race on such tracks. I agree with some of the posters on this blog who have advocated the closure of the series. It just does not work properly. There are bright spots, to be sure. I enjoyed the Iowa race, for example, as it reminded me of what could be. Milwaukee was good too. But otherwise, it seems adrift and inept. Mostly bad. Mostly chaotic. Mostly unprofessional. Randy Bernard is not the person for this job, but it is a job soon irrelevant, in my opinion. I think what is best for the future of the Indianapolis 500 and some sort of salvation for this sport, is to close it down and begin anew on a more modest scale as posters such as Burl have suggested.
    • Why?
      Automobile Racing is folly.
    • I o w a
      Indycar scores! ....a 0.18 TV rating on NBCSN for Iowa race. DOWN 40% from 2011. Seriously. What excuse shall we use now?
    • Hay iman & Dipsicle
      remember when you slackjaws thought CART getting a .40 for a middle of night Moteggi qualification tv broadcast was funny
    • Hay iman & Dipsicle
      can you imagine how heartily Chief is laughing now?
    • Grater News!
      We hear SpeedTV has revealed that owners are getting reamed $$$-wise on spare parts. Owners are in 100% solidarity that theIRL needs to drop prices or else!!!! 40% less or else!!! WoOOT! I thoought the new Dallara factory in Speedway, IN was gonna solve all this stuff? They even used PUBLIC BONDS to finance the new building and all they do there is serve coffee and uncrate boxes of overcharged for parts. The Speedway is getting a healthy cut off the top from the overpriced Dallara parts. It's all a sham...an ICONIC SHAM. OWNERS TO BOYCOTT...you heard it here first. I say do it in Toronto for max impact! Bwahahhahahhaha!
    • The Dallara Works
      Chief, I have driven by the Dallara facility been never been in there. Do they serve a good cup of coffee in there? Or is it the cheap, Dollar General rot gut. I would think it is a pretty good cup o' joe for the prices old Automobili is charging for their race gear.

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    1. President Obama has referred to the ACA as "Obamacare" any number of times; one thing it is not, if you don't qualify for a subsidy, is "affordable".

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    3. Eating there years ago the food was decent, nothing to write home about. Weird thing was Javier tried to pass off the story the way he ended up in Indy was he took a bus he thought was going to Minneapolis. This seems to be the same story from the founder of Acapulco Joe's. Stopped going as I never really did trust him after that or the quality of what being served.

    4. Indianapolis...the city of cricket, chains, crime and call centers!

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