SBD/Issue 162/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Cleveland, Houston Trying To Secure '09 IndyCar Series Races

Former Champ Car Events Trying To
Secure Spot On IRL Schedule In '09
MJ Promotions CEO Mike Lanigan, whose company promoted the former Champ Car World Series races in Cleveland and Houston, Friday led a group that gave a presentation to IRL officials that "included both events -- stating it's more cost-effective to do two races than one," according to Elton Alexander of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Both the Cleveland and Houston events this season were canceled after the unification of U.S. open-wheel racing, and "securing a spot on the 2009 schedule still remains tenuous." But Lanigan said that a "big positive to come out" of Friday's meeting was "IRL's interest in checking out the Cleveland venue in person, hopefully, in June." Lanigan: "Many people with the IRL have never seen what Cleveland has to offer. The IRL is motivated to see us, touch us and feel us." IRL Commercial Division President Terry Angstadt said that all Champ Car events which were not included on the IndyCar Series' '08 schedule "made requests to be on the 2009 schedule and will make presentations to the IRL." Angstadt: "We want to see a dedicated plan. Financial stability. Show a sensitivity to the success factors we look for -- high interest levels, good corporate hospitality, good connection to the community, newspaper involvement. Do they have things like concerts and other things to create a total experience?" Alexander noted Cleveland's corporate involvement in the race in recent years has been "tepid, and a title sponsor has been lacking." Lanigan and Grand Prix of Cleveland GM Chuck Kosich said that they are "trying to secure" a title sponsor. With the '07 return of IRL races at Mid-Ohio and in Detroit, along with events in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Iowa, Chicago and Kansas, Angstadt said that the "threat of too many races in the Midwest exists." Angstadt said of Cleveland's chances to host a race next year, "We would like to listen and consider all options, all alternatives at this stage. But we're getting pretty tight for any considerations for 2009. We've talked a lot to people since unification, some in more details than others. We have said we would like to be ready -- the end of June, early July -- to say here is the '09 schedule" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 5/10).

POLE POSITION: YAHOO SPORTS' Bob Margolis said the new qualifying format for the Indianapolis 500 in which only 11 cars qualify for each of the first three of four qualifying days, has "captivated and entertained as the name at the top of the speed chart changed with such frequency it was hard to keep up not only with who was sitting at the top, but who was next up to make an attempt to unseat the pole sitter." The new format and "in part the new unified field also produced the largest Pole Day crowd" since the split of open-wheel racing in '96 (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/10). But in Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz wrote the final hour of qualifying on Saturday, "normally the wildest and most unpredictable of the day, turned into an absolute snoozefest." There were "several teams and their drivers waving white flags of surrender." With Scott Dixon in the pole position, the "realistic front-row challengers -- Helio Castroneves, Danica Patrick, Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti -- were invisible. Not exactly must-see TV" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/11).



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