New racing series coming to Indy

August 17, 2010
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A new motorsports series may be coming to an arena near you—and soon.

MZD, a local advertising agency which has a division specializing in franchising, has been hired by Arena Racing USA to find operators of the series here in Indianapolis.

MZD officials are in the process of talking to the folks with the Pepsi Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and Conseco Fieldhouse. Those talks have yet to heat up, but already, Rick Fuson, who is in charge of Fieldhouse operations for Pacers Sports & Entertainment, loves the idea.

Arena Racing was founded in Virginia, and has been very popular there and in Grand Rapids, Mich. It is expanding to the heart of NASCAR country (Charlotte, NC) next year, and series founders also want it in Indianapolis in 2011.

The stock car series runs 15 races per year on a 1/8-mile portable aluminum track. The cars are one-half the size of a NASCAR ride. The races can best be described as part oval racing, part smash-up derby.

Though the series has no official affiliation with NASCAR, there are plenty of connections.

NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, drivers Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley, and Interstate Battery are investors. The series was started by Bob Keane and Ricky Dennis, son of 1970 NASCAR rookie of the year Bill Dennis.

Home Depot, Hoosier Tire, Stihl and the U.S. Army, among others, have signed on as sponsors.

“I’m a firm believer in this,” Gibbs said. “It provides great competition at a time of year when motorsports is typically dormant. Plus, it’s a cost-effective way to get started in racing.”

MZD signed on with the two-year old series in July, and MZD chief Allan Zukerman thinks he could have a deal done within six to 12 months. The season generally runs from October to March. Zukerman's first order of business is to find an investor willing to put $1.2 million into the local race series. The series consists of 56 cars, which drivers can buy for $12,000. Cars run in heats each race night, which culminates in a championship race.

“I’d like to see that entry investment lowered, but the business model shows you can make a profit by drawing 3,500 spectators per race,” Zukerman said. “We feel that’s very reasonable in this market. We think if this model can’t succeed in Indianapolis, it can’t succeed anywhere.”

Zukerman is well known in local advertising and marketing circles and should have no problem getting people to take his calls. MZD’s franchise division has already signed deals with Mr. Dan’s Restaurants, Ritter’s Frozen Custard, Wall Street Deli, Papa John’s Pizza, Steak Escape and Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips to name a few.

Pacers’ Sports & Entertainment’s Fuson is one who will take that call.

“We like the concept, we like the people behind this, and we think we’d have interest from fans in motorsports-related events here,” Fuson said. “We look forward to talking with the folks from MZD.”

  • I got it!
    Let's continue to saturate trhe region with NASCAR racing (albeit in a clandestine fashion with this thing)and dumb it down to the lowest common denominator. Apparently NASCAR wasn't quite there yet. No, wait! They were. They already have oval racing/smash up derby. It is called Sprint Cup. Throw in some faux-drama and there you have it! NASCAR crap year round. They finally are bringing it inside to go full WWE. Classic move! Problem is, there sport is no longer as popular as it once was and, in fact, is in such a decline it is returning to third-tier status. Oh well, who cares? This is junky motorsports here. And with NASCAR on the way out, I go to the last hired, first fired card on this one. I give it one horribly laughingstock, goofy, fun to make fun of and watch the empty seats season. NASCAR is so yesterday. But they still do not get that important fact. Back to the trailer crowd, only in smaller numbers these days, as the textile mills and factories are all closed so there is not much in the way of scratch to buy tickets. Foodstamps don't work either. Hey NASCAR! There's an idee-er!
  • Lighten Up Burl
    I'm a white collar race fan living in Indy and me and my young sons would love to see this form of racing at Conseco in the dead of Winter. Bring it on and we'll be there. Burl you can stay home and stew in your bitterness.
  • interesting concept. I always loved the Thunder in the Dome when they ran here. I am betting they can draw better than 3,500. So is there like a Superbowl where the winners from each City race against each other?

    With the strong backers they have, it has a good chance.

    Hopefully they can figure out the exhaust thing, I remember in the dome it could down right foul by the end of the night.
  • interesting concept. I always loved the Thunder in the Dome when they ran here. I am betting they can draw better than 3,500. So is there like a Superbowl where the winners from each City race against each other?

    With the strong backers they have, it has a good chance.

    Hopefully they can figure out the exhaust thing, I remember in the dome it could down right foul by the end of the night.
  • admission price
    If it costs less than $15 per person per event, count me and my kids in for 3 or 4 races a year. I love to see up and comers.
  • questions answered
    As for ticket prices, the series' co-founder said the average ticket price per race night is $10. As for a Super Bowl type event where all the series winners meet at year's end ... there are no plans for that yet, but series founders aren't completely dismissing the idea. One of the allures of the concept is to keep travel at a minimum and thus keep costs down for competitors, so the Super Bowl idea might be difficult.
  • Burl - Stay home. Please
    It will make more room in the stands, if you do.

    I have actually heard of this series before (on and it sounds intriguing. It is a different direction from the Legends cars, which normally race outdoors. I have heard that the track will be elevated and it is see-through, IIRC. Interesting!!!
  • Racing
    Lots of names being thrown around to be involved hoping to get a lot of bang for small bucks.

    Surely they won't miss Barrel.
  • Stock cur
    You just know this will beat the irl's T.V. ratings!
    • Family Fun
      Arena Racing UsA provides an opportunity for a family to be entertained with competitive racing, indoors for a relatively low cost. No second mortgage to take the crew out with the tickets at or near $10. And we all are looking for good value when it comes to entertainment. Indianapolis is the racing capital of the world. With that distinction comes the charge to be an leader in the sport. Bringing Arena Racing to Indy is doing just that, being a leader. Funny, but a previous post was not very complimentary about the chance for Indy to get this exciting project. First off, there is no affiliation to Nascar in terms of Arena Racing being a "minor' league for Nascar. Simply put, Joe Gibbs and others see the value in offering the opportunity to be involved in racing either as a participant or a spectator at a relatively low cost and offer their support.
      Arena Racing would be good for Indianapolis and it would continue to show the racing world that we are indeed "The Racing Capital of the World" Thanks
    • Great Racing
      Well I am happy to see a lot of opinions about Arena Racing; that's a good thing. Plans are to build a World Champion; bracketing all the market winners and developing a real champion. We want to keep this affordable for the fan, the driver or team owner and the sponsor alike. This property reconnects with the local racing community like no other. We look forward to seeing it in Indianapolis.

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