Speedway extending Obama Indianapolis 500 invitation

March 8, 2010
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Officials for the Indy Racing League and Indianapolis Motor Speedway are hoping to roll out the red carpet for President Barack Obama—in May 2011.

Terry Angstadt, president for the IRL commercial division, said series officials are hoping Obama will accept an invitation to come to Indy for the Indianapolis 500.

If Obama accepts, it would be the first time a sitting U.S. president attended the Indianapolis 500.

IMS this morning confirmed that an invitation is being prepared, and will be sent to Obama this May, inviting him to the race in 2011—which marks the event’s centennial.

The IRL has already made quite an impression with Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and series officials are hoping to leverage Obama’s friendship with da Silva to coordinate a possible joint visit to the Indianapolis 500.

The IndyCar Series races in Brazil for the first time this Sunday. da Silva, popularly known as Lula in his home land, is scheduled to attend the race and present the winner’s trophy.

Already, da Silva, has met privately with the five Brazilian race drivers set to race this Sunday in Sao Paulo, Brazil. And da Silva took a ride in an IndyCar two-seater piloted by Brazilian driver Ana Beatriz. The IRL had a race helmet custom made for da Silva, and he prominently displays it in his office.

“The support we’ve gotten from him—and the entire region—is phenomenal,” Angstadt said. “The president (da Silva) has become a huge IndyCar fan.”

Angstadt said outreach has begun between IRL officials and Obama’s staff, but no commitment has yet been given for an Indianapolis 500 visit.

A presidential visit would be a big coup to a series struggling to gain media attention and a main stream U.S. and global following. The visit no doubt would be a boost to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway—which is dealing with its own challenges—and to the entire city’s tourism efforts.

Obama is a big sports fans, having attended a number of sporting events since he has taken office. But it’s not clear how closely Obama follows motorsports in general or open-wheel racing in particular.

da Silva was a big enough fan to throw his support behind a multi-year, multi-million dollar sponsorship deal that began last season between the IRL and Brazil's trade promotion agency, APEX-Brasil, for which the Brazilian president has a great deal of sway.

Sources said da Silva is such a fan of IndyCar, that he is pushing to extend Apex-Brasil’s two-year sponsorship before his current term ends Jan. 1, 2011. IRL and Apex-Brasil officials are working to hammer out a two-year extension through 2012, and an announcement is expected this week in conjunction with the Sao Paulo race.

  • Positive
    It is nice to read something positive related to the IRL in this blog. Thanks
    • President @ IMA
      Let's hope he doesn't show up for the race. There will be many people that will reconsider going to the track if he is there after the liberal fiascos that are in play even as I speak!
      • give me a break!
        people won't go to the race because he is going to be there? give me break! nice little fantasy of yours....
        • Although I am about polar opposites with him in politics, it is always good to have a sitting president visit Indy. I was surprised that no sitting president had ever attended a race. This would be a coup for Indianapolis and the IMS. I like the joint visit idea.

          Although the Secret Service would never allow it, it would be cool to see a president in an Indy 2-seater. Hell, it would be cool to see me in a 2-seater.
        • surprised
          I too was surprised a sitting president had never been to the Indianapolis 500 race. But a call this morning to Donald Davidson confirmed it. Several presidents have been to the race either before or after they were in office. That list: Reagan; Ford; GHW Bush and Clinton at the same race (2003), and reportedly Truman.
        • Not going
          People WILL stay away if Obama goes. In addition to his politics and tactics, the security threat will be huge!
        • ummm....
          who cares? If you are that adamant about not being in the same venue as a president, than so be it. It will bring some attention to the IMS and Indy. Even though I am not a democrat or republican, I do feel this would be a cool thing to see a president bring attention to the area. Maybe there can be a way that he can also do business while in the state (before or after the event) to rally whatever is on his agenda (in a different building)? If so, it wouldn't be the first time a president mixed pleasure with business.
        • Bring back LUDACRIS
          It wouldn't influence my decision if the President was going to be there....it's a publicity SCAM either way you look at it.

          IRL is pulling out all the guns to put butts in the seats...nothing would be finer (I suppose) than to be in Indiana when 200,000 conservative spectators BOO the President of the United States. It'll do wonders for his populatity.....
        • umm..
          That will be about the only way the stands are filled. We should all welcome Obama to Indy and be grateful that is presence will drive attendence to our city and help our economy.

          Just because many of you wouldn't go to the Indy 500 because he is there, many will.
        • hmmm
          Don't count on it
        • Rednecks
          It'll be fun to see all the Indy Rednecks not wanting to go because the President is at the race.
        • I'll be there
          I'm a good old redneck and I don't mind the president coming. You'd have to be a fool not to realize the positive PR a sitting president coming to the Indianapolis 500 would give the event, series and city. I'm a redneck, and even I know that. Rather I agree with his politics or not, I support his presence. And as far as security, the Secret Service has covered more difficult assignments.
        • George Anthony
          What a stupid comment, George! Your your loathing diatribe goes way beyond understanding of any reasonable human being.
        • Barry Hussein
          Another reason not to attend, not that I needed one. I wouldn't walk across the street to see the pride of Indonesia. Maybe he will bailout IMS, God knows he has bailed out every other mismanaged business in the US.
        • Wow
          So surprised how many trailer parks now have internet access!
        • Amazing how quickly the haters keep changing the topic Anthony provides to an outlet for their hate. i love all these people who do not like the 500, hate ims and hate tg, but will spend hours reading and commenting on it every time the topic comes up. Typically I do not spend any time worrying about something i do not like, let alone taking the time to continously tell people how much I hate it.
        • Political move
          Let's see. The President carried Indiana, which I'll explain for those who don't get it: he got more votes here than the other guy. First time since 1964 that a Democrat carried Indiana. So maybe he wants to keep the 11 electoral votes in his column.

          On the other hand, it's a security nightmare for the Secret Service...and just look at the haters this post has brought out.

          All in all, I suspect it will be considered too big a risk. IMS would never do what's done at the Super Bowl: nothing in that isn't searched; no one in who isn't frisked, everyone goes through metal detectors.

          Nice thought, though.
        • Right on
          You beat me to the punch Thundermutt... nice comment. I was going to point out the same thing, that he did win this state... a historically "red" state and he won it.

          I would like to see him come to the IMS, but I agree that the security issue would stop it. It would be great for the city and state... and not just great for the IMS. And regardless of a person's political views, a sitting president (and regardless of their political affiliation as well) at an event is a great thing.
        • WHY?
          I believe this shows the poor condition of major league open wheel racing in the U.S.A.That IMS would have to DRAW attention to their event by inviting the President.
        • POTUS
          It used to be that Americans had respect for the office of the POTUS. Have you no sense of respect?
        • obomma
          WHY? Why on earth would you want to do that!!!??? Please. I'd probably miss the first 500 mile race in my long life--and many others with me.
        • something positive?
          what's positive about obamma being at the greatest race in the greatest city in the greatest state?
        • So since the Daytona 500, Super Bowl and MLB have invited potus's to attend, I guess they are in poor condition?

          Security intrustions would be minimal at worst. I was there when the sitting vpotus (Quayle) attended the 500. He was helicoptered in, sat for part of the race in the turn 2 suites and then left with minimal issues. Granted security would be tighter, this would be no worse than him giving a public speech or taking a walk back to the white house like he has done.

          Helicopter him into the infield near the pagoda. whisk him up to the suites in the tower. all is good. The height of the tower and the dark tinting would make it near impossible for a gunman to take aim. other than clearing out the pagoda plaza for a little while, no issues.
        • Gimme a break
          If I was Obama I'd stay clear. The IRL stink is like a dead skunk in the middle of the road...with a full bladder. Stinkin' up the highway. Apologies to Loudon Wainwright III and New Hampshire International Speedway for dragging them into it...
        • POTUS should go
          Burl the Pearl here to weigh in: I think POTUS should attend. The sitting POTUS needs to go to Indy atleast once in the 100-year history of the event. That way it can be said that a POTUS attended one of the Indy 500's in its 1911-2011 history, even if that visit came toward the end.
        • iman's issues
          iman says: Typically I do not spend any time worrying about something i do not like, let alone taking the time to continously tell people how much I hate it.

          Yet you did just that in the same post where you tell us you don't do that.
        • Truth,

          please tell me where I talked about something i hate.
        • LMAO
          The EARL gave Shiggy Hattori a license after CART pulled it so they would probably give Iman one with all his yellow shirt experience.
        • iman's issues
          what's the matter iman, you're not up for the Kenny Brack experience in your own crapwagon?
        • I would jump in an Indycar in an instant if I had any racing talent. But after trying out the shifter carts, I am much better off being a fan.

          Never was a yellow shirt, could not take off that much time. The only work I have done at IMS was volunteering through my church to work a concession stand for some qual days years ago.

          So truth, what did I write about that I hate?
        • gee willikers
          Oh for f&&*( sake what has Talkin Terry dreamt up this week?! The go-billies in Speedtucky and Moorseville and Brownsburg would have a snit fit if BO showed up. Chicken buckets will fly and budweisers will rain down on the track. the gomers will finally show their true colors.

          go Delta wing!

          Truth - nice "Kenny Brack Experience" reference. :)
        • :)
          well, it wouldn't be the first time that the Speedway Race Track has seen BO... lol
        • Epic
          The Brazil race is a disaster. Qualifying cancelled as most of the no talent EARL drivers can't keep it on the track. No fear though as they will grind the track overnight which will hopefully not cause another tire disaster like happened at IMS* (twice)after Emperor George diamond ground the track to keep the crapwagons from doing rocket launches. And a 80% chance of rain on Sunday, he he. A ratings bonanza for REversus.
          • Typical of Brett and most haters for that matter. They rip the IRL for things they do not have control over, but then do not give the track or IRL credit when those problems are overcome the right way.

            How many times were cart races affected by bad tracks. Be it the peeling asphalt at Miami or the lack of practice that made the race at Texas never happen.

            What did cart do? Ran, hid, took the cheap way out. The IRL and the track promoters stepped up and ran what many consider one of the best races. don't believe me, here is an article from SI.

          • Bruce Martin?
            Are you really going to reference Bruce? LMAO. What ever happened with that DUI he got in a IMS vehicle? For those of you who don't know, Brucey works for REversus. WHich part was best? The zero visibilty concrete dust, the monsoon, or the hail knocking out communications? The red flag was the best part.
          • The Usual
            BM is iman's pen name. no bias there
          • Don't tase me bro'
            "Taser" Martin? Is that the guy that was driving a Speedway owner courtesy vehicle at the 500 when he smashed up several cars in a high speed chase, on like 3 flat tires and shooting sparks all over the road? At 3AM?

            And he writes for Versus, the 10 year contracted TV supplier for the IRL NOT available on Direct TV? That Bruce Martin? Hey, what ever was the outcome of the alleged DUI? So, he though it was a good race, huh? hehehe
          • Some Really Silly Comments By Others
            I love the Race, and if I attend this year, I certainly won't care who else is in attendance. However, I do appreciate the significance of having a sitting President attend the race. It would be quite an honor for the 500.

            How utterly stupid to protest the Race because you disagree with this specific President's policies. The Race is a non-partisan event, and the 500 does not endorse or oppose any specific national policies. Also, President Obama is the president of our nation. Whether one voted for him or not, or agrees or disagrees with his policies, he is our nation's leader and designated representative. There was a time when people understood the concept of respecting the Office of the President, even if they disagreed with the specific policies of an individual President. It is time to restore some of that wisdom from previous generations.

            It would be quite an honor for a sitting President to attend the Race. And if that upsets some people, then perhaps they should stay home--we don't need their negative and shameful attitudes at such a terrific event.
          • TOney won't be there
            he doesn't know what indy use to mean before he got involved
          • Sure don't remember you haters saying anything about robin miller when he was a paid shill for cart, writing kiss up articles and then trying to pass them off as real news. Then when cart booted him, he tried to kiss back up to IMS.

          • not sure if you know this Anthony, but vs. is back on direct tv. noticed the other day. thats gonna ruin the haters day.
          • Iman's Issues
            Actually, the announcement made the day for us lovers of open wheel racing. It said nothing about the Irrelevant Racing leeg and its 12 fans as being a reason for the agreement. It was a bike race in France and Canada's national sport that got the settlement done. Not some was been race in Speedway Indiana.
          • As The Speedway Turns
            Another sign of growth and excitement about the future of a former great racing venue:

            IMS' vice president of marketing resigns

            Star report

            Posted: March 18, 2010

            After 2 1/2 years as vice president of
            marketing and communications at the
            Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Chris
            Schwartz resigned today.

            A former marketing director at Penske
            Racing, Schwartzâ??s responsibilities at IMS
            covered all marketing, ticket sales and
            customer service activities for the
            Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and Moto
            GP events.

            Schwartzâ??s last day will be March 31.
          • Yeah it was the pressure of getting the deal done before the July bike race. Or the pressure of having half the hockey season over before they made the agreement. Of course it had nothing to do with the start of the IRL. But of course you haters are desperate to put a negative spin on anything.

            You crow that the IRL cannot get a title sponsor, then when they do you try to pick them apart.

            Comcast and Direct Tv have a pi$$ing match and you guys blame it on the IRL, a deal is stuck returning it at the begining of the season and somehow it is not because of the IRL.

            You guys are very creative. Awesome imaginations.
          • Iman's Issues
            It doesn't take an imagination to accept the facts. read the press releases,,,nothing about your dying sport in them.
          • Yep and the fact that it happened half way through NHL season, 4 months before the Tour and right at the start of the IRL just is a coincedence? You guys are amusing.

            Truth, do you hear the silence of the rotors? The fact you don't hear them, means they are there.
          • Clueless Packrat
            How many indy 500 wins does the unser family have?

            Gordon Kirby

            Bruce Barnes, the longtime agent for the Unser family, has been trying to re-publish my 1988 book, 'Unser, an American Family Portrait.' But he's been unable to find a publisher prepared to underwrite the project. "I've approached at least twenty publishers and there's been zero interest. Nobody cares. There's just no visibility for any of these guys anymore. I can't sell any endorsements for the Unsers. The only guy whose name has value in the market is Mario. He stands apart from all the rest of them.

            "Tony just doesn't get it does he?" Barnes adds. "He doesn't understand that he's ruined the entire business. I used to have a few hundred tickets and more every year for raceday for various guests and corporate clients. But that's all collapsed since the split. These days I've got maybe twenty-five people who want to go and none of them are heavy hitters. This year I called Peggy Swalls (the Speedway's vice-president of administration who's in charge of credentials) and asked if I could get some upgrades to better seats and she said, 'Sure. What do you want? We've got seats available anywhere you like.

            TOney, indyman and the IRL, destroyers of a legacy
          • You do realize Bruce Barnes died 5 years ago. I am guessing this is not a recent quote. I am not sure where you dusted it off from, but it does not even show up in a Google search. Wow, the haters are getting desperate.

            So are you now searching for a Floyd Davis quote about how Eddie Rickenbacker cost him a race win?
          • iman's issues
            still true today and it obviously didn't get any better or TOney wouldn't have closed shop sold his crapwagon thrown in the towel and moved to Florida
          • Seems to make sense, that a fan of a long dead series would quote a long dead person.

          • iman's issues
            I was never a CART fan; before my time. When did the series you are a fan of ever have a pulse?
          • Before your time? Well that explains a lot about your answers. So you have no first hand knowledge of the split.

            My series still has a pulse and is still running. Although some of the changes are unfortunate.
          • iman's fantasies
            what's left of your series. A 622 million dollar artificial lung is not a sign of health.
          • No, but 24 cars per race, a title sponsor, and strong crowds for the first race is. Be interesting to see how the rest of the season goes. By the way, if you keep quoting the $600 mil number, without anything to back it up, you just look stupid. Have you found the link to Fred Nation quoting that number yet? Still waiting.
          • iman's issues
            I guess we know how to keep a moron waiting don't we.

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