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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

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Sports Business

IndyCar Series considering European swing

July 15, 2011
KEYWORDS Sports Business

IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard is considering adding races in Chicago or Houston next year, but the long-term plan calls for a European swing.

“Oh yeah, in the next five years, I think you’ll see the IndyCar Series reach more international markets,” Bernard said. “I’d love to see us do the oval in Germany.”

A likely initial target for the IndyCar Series would be the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, a two-mile tri-oval race track situated near Klettwitz. The track is located in the eastern part of Germany between Dresden and Berlin.

Bernard said foreign manufacturers either in the series or expected to join—engine makers in particular—could dictate a move to Europe by 2016.

Bernard concedes Europeans have little awareness of the IndyCar Series, but pointed out that European TV ratings for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 were up more than 10 percent over the 2010 race.

“I think there’s real potential for us in Europe,” Bernard said.

While the move might help current sponsors and attract new ones looking for European exposure at cheaper prices than offered by Formula One, the downside could be additional logistics problems and expenses for teams, some of which are already financially challenged.

But in the near-term, Bernard is focused on the 2012 schedule. The series could add races next year in Mexico or Brazil, but currently a road race near Reliant Stadium in Houston looks like the strongest possible addition for next year.

“Talks continue to go strongly in Houston,” Bernard said. “We will have a decision in the next month.”

Why Houston?

Simple, Bernard said. It’s a huge market—the nation’s fourth-largest—with 6 million residents in the area.

Oh, and there’s one more very good reason.

“Our sponsors want it,” Bernard said.
 

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