Double dose of good news for Speedway, IndyCar Series

September 6, 2011
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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar Series got a double dose of good news over the Labor Day weekend.

On Sunday, it was announced that IMS officials reached a deal to keep the MotoGP motorcycle race at the Speedway through 2014.

Apparently, talk of the race’s imminent demise during last month’s event was greatly exaggerated. The loud complaints from a handful of racers about the track’s condition certainly didn’t help kill the notion that the race had a short life expectancy. MotoGP officials later said those racers—most notably race winner Australian Casey Stoner—didn’t speak for series officials.

There was an issue with the date of the race, but that got worked out and the race will be held next year on Aug. 19.

Notably, a new MotoGP race is starting in Austin, Texas, in 2013, and motorsports insiders said that event put the Indianapolis race at risk. The three-year commitment would appear to be a strong endorsement for the Indianapolis race by MotoGP officials. Until now, that race was held on a year-to-year contract.

But attendance for the local MotoGP race continues to be a concern. Three-day attendance for the event has declined each year since the race was first held at the IMS in 2008, and this year’s three-day total of 134,766 was an all-time low for the local event.

On the upside, attendance for Sunday’s headline race was 64,151, up from 62,794 in 2010.

Attendance was not a problem at the IndyCar Series’ first race in Baltimore last weekend. City and race officials were hoping for a three-day crowd of 100,000. The event culminated in the Baltimore Grand Prix on Sunday. City officials estimated the race drew about 75,000 and the three-day total was near 150,000.

Seating for the street race was limited to less than 40,000, but many of the corners were packed with standing spectators.

The two-mile, 13-turn course on city streets ran past the Inner Harbor and around Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The IndyCar and the American Le Mans series headlined the event. IndyCar officials compared the Baltimore weekend to the series’ race in Long Beach, long known to be one of the most successful U.S. road course events.

The success of the race is especially important because the Baltimore Grand Prix is the series’ only event in the mid-Atlantic region.

The race was so successful, it had some area political analysts wondering if it would help with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’ re-election bid. Elections there start in less than 10 days.

That’s not to say the weekend went off without a hitch.

The installation of some fencing delayed practices Friday, there were problems with club seating and sections being oversold, and with lines at bottleneck points such as security checkpoints and pedestrian bridges over the track.

While several downtown Baltimore restaurants reported their biggest Labor Day weekend ever, other downtown restaurant operators said that not only did they see little business from the race, but local news reports of logistical problems with the race scared off regular customers.

On the track, Tony Kanaan had a major scare in practice before the race when his brakes failed and he went airborne after hitting Helio Castroneves’ car. The series can’t take the blame for the car’s failure, but if Kanaan had steered to the right side of the tire barrier and smashed into the wall there and seriously hurt himself or worse, the series would have had some explaining to do.

Another near miss came when a safety truck hustling to turn one almost took out the front end of the field just as the race was being started. Luckily, it was just a near-miss and didn’t mar a successful event.

  • Awesome
    Just a little more good news to start the week. Can't wait to hear the negative spin the doom and gloomers put on it ha ha. Have at it boys...
  • The Irl
    will have to continue finding new, one off events because it has killed everything else.
  • Good One
    Thanks Truth. An astute observation, as always.
  • Doesn't matter
    Baltimore was popular in Baltimore. Nobody else in America cares. Patano's and what's his faces don't resonate. Needs more Americans. Needs more ovals. Until then, series is nobody.
  • At least
    Well, Buddy, at least it was popular in Baltimore, which seems to be a step in the right direction for the series. That beats being a bust in the city that hosts the race.
  • @Buddy Ward
    What is that nonsense about ovals? The Irl was formed to preserve the foreign open wheel street race tradition. You were probably AJ Foyt's tire changer in a previous episode.
  • One aspect I have not seen mentioned by anyone is the fact that anything Indy or Indianapolis is poison in a Baltimorons mouth. Don't forget that this is the city that will not put Colts on the scoreboard and the same city where the sports writers refer to them as the professional football team from Indianapolis. To embrace and love an event that is based in Indy and has Indy in its name is impressive.

    Reading the press accounts, this was one of the biggest events in Bmore and they raved about the "international flavor" the event brought.

    I still think Indycar needs to look at getting its foot in the door in NYC and/or Boston. Getting the right mix of oval and street/road courses is the key to success.
  • Needs WAY more street races
    Look, they sell apparently. It's evolution friends...embrace it. Ovals as the Irl knewed them once is done.

    Terry Angestat sez China street race is almost done...

    This is evolution. Bwahahaaha
  • Sport is very passe
    Young people hardly know of it. The street festivals are popular as "events". But only with downtown party folks and a few sporty car types.

    It is a dying sport. These are simply the last vestiges.

    There will be a Final Indy 500 in a few years. The Japan "Final" is even a test run at the theme.

    This sport shall be no more by decades end.

    It has had its time.

    Young people do not care. What is Indy? You see.
  • I remember another exciting event
    Had some glitches, but was generally perceived as successful in its first go around. San Jose 2005. That saved Champ Car, right?

    To be fair, San Jose didn't have a safety truck going counter-track at the start. That's the special kind of FAIL only the IndyCar League can manage.

    And imagine my shock when IndyCar was actually mentioned on Sunday morning ESPN SportsCenter! It was for a near tragedy, but hey, there's no such thing as bad publicity in IndyCarLand, right?
  • Bloody fisticuffs! San Jose had it all
    Was that the race when Tagliani and Tracy got in the dust-up and PT came out a bloody mess? the track jumping was sweet too...

    Sure beats the purse swinging that goes on in the IRL...even that big security dude laughs in their faces in the IRL.
  • Wheeeeeee!
    Rallye jump was in 2005, the Tags/Tracy smackdown was 2006 (along with the DP-01 unveiling). In 2007 they actually managed to have a race with some passes, when Cotman put a little "DO NOT CROSS" marker on the pavement in the hairpin.

    Good times, good times.
  • Japan - The Final
    One good thing the league has done this year is pull the plug on a race. Japan. But why even go? Who's got what on whom? All that expense to get over there and manuever the big uglies on a left-right-left in front of what few Japanese fans are still alive to watch on that devastated side of the Pacific, and maybe, if they are really, really, super-really, pretty-please with sugar on top, Aaron's lucky dog kinda lucky, they'll get a .30 and then be able to hoot and hollar about the ratings "rocketing" and such like. You see? So, that's like best case. Maybe Danica wins again over there or what have you. Nobody cares about Power and Frankichtti or what's his face and Helio is so yesterday. If Vitor won I suppose Foyt would have a grand finale and like the thrity fans left over at Trackforum would collectively wet. Brazilians would go ape-shay and that's good because that is where the series belongs anyhow. Indy being abotu done and all, well anyhow, that's my take.
  • Last Kentucky too?
    Word out of the Commonwealth has it that if Bruton doesn't see more than 25,000,adios Sparta. Heard that in Baltimore in the paddock. No more Kentucky would be a major sucky.
  • about B'more,0,5636680.story
  • about B'more
  • Now the final Indy is a couple of years away. You guys are really funny. Japan is some kind of dress rehearsal for a future end? Really?

    I have an idea, since it is obvious you do not know what you are talking about, quit talking. all you are doing is embarrasing yourselves.
  • What is great about the IRL is
    that its reported title sponsor apparently isn't missed when it doesn't show up at 60% of the events for the league, of which it is, reportedly, the title sponsor. But that is most likely because the fee to be the league's title sponsor is so low that when the check doesn't show up, no one but the Sisters notice.

    Let's see. Looking at the podium pix from B'More, I see a big chicken in a red fire suit, but no presence of anyone from the reported title sponsor. I see some ladies from the VIP Club, whatever that might be, but no one wearing any IZOD apparel. Hmmm, I'm sure the league's spokesman will be back to explain all that to us, shortly.
  • No more Kentucky?
    Yes, I heard that too at the Baltimore race. A bunch of us were hanging out in the paddock and I said, "man, I can't wait for the next oval". Some IndyCar guy in the IndyCar paddock there said, "Better enjoy it while you can." That lines up with word that Bruton is going to 86 the IndyCar Series of this upcoming Kentucky race is a flop. Also, a buddy of mine in Indy said the series plans to drop it anyhow. Wow. I imagine it will be replaced with a street festival race in where? Madagascar? Norway?

    This series is so dead. I swear. And for the record, I am sorry I went to Baltimore. The atmosphere was great but the racing sucked. IndyCars do not belong on city streets looking slow and awkward, which they did.

    Long Beach is the only good street race I have been too. It works there for some reason. Everywhere else, it is boring and rediculous. Why oh why do they run these cars on those streets? Oh, I know. Money. Never mind it serves to undermine the sport by making it look retarded.

    Back to Kentucky, yes, I think Bruton may have a point. No show, no go, baby.

    IndyCar trouser is sure to be soiled when Bruton calls and says"go away."
  • Sure you did. Sure you did.
  • The new Target irlcar
  • Randy Takes A Trip to Europe
    Indy Racing boss leaves Ferrari meeting red-faced

    It's often said that the Monza grandstands are a sea of red, but American Indy Racing League boss Randy Bernard left the track today both red-faced and seeing red - and it had nothing to do with the tifosi.

    The American racing boss had come to Monza, home of this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, as the guest of Ferrari's Luca di Montezemelo and to present a proposal that "would create interest in F1 in America and be mutually beneficial".

    More specifically, Bernard requested permission and co-operation from Ferrari for the use of one of their F1 drivers in an upcoming Indy race.

    More specifically, Bernard requested Michael Schumacher.

    Problem: the seven-time World Champion drives for Mercedes GP!
    • A Fool's Errand
      Wonder if Randy asked to borrow Alonso when he had dinner with Ron Dennis in London earlier in the week.

      (Have a feeling this "story" is a messageboard joke didn't the insurance policy for the $5M bonus get canceled?)

      Think this is all about the silly sideshow going on in F1 world about circuits replacing F1 with Indycar if the future engine regs aren't "cool" enough.
    • Indy fun
      Hope to see all of you at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for some Indy/ Nascar Truck Series fun! October 13-16!
    • Randy is on over his hat
      He sucks at what he does. Best he goes back to the Wild West shows in Hicksville, California or whatever it was he did out there in the dirt with this cowboy stuff. Cars aren't his game. Especially foreign ones driven by foreign rich people like IndyCar.

      He's too corn pone for this exotic game. A game dying quickly, nonetheless.

    • Slow news month for IRL
      Zzzzzz...lame duck is as lame duck does.

      As long as IRL is out of the public eye, I'm a happy happy camper. DEATHBLOW 2011 continues!!!!

    • @Chief
      when has the irl EVER been in the public eye?

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