SBD/July 6, 2011/Events and Attractions

IndyCar Series Heading Back To Auto Club Speedway With Night Race In '12

IndyCar last raced at Auto Club Speedway during the '05 season
IndyCar Monday announced it will hold a night race at Auto Club Speedway next fall. Tickets for the Izod IndyCar Series race will go on sale Sept. 12 (IndyCar). Auto Club Speedway President Gillian Zucker "did not specify the date" of the race, "other than to say it will be in the fall." Sources said that it likely will be in September or October. The race is the "result of a nearly two-year attempt by Zucker to regain a spot in the IndyCar lineup." ACS "was among the finalists for the 2011 series finale that eventually was awarded to Las Vegas Motor Speedway" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 7/5). In L.A., Jim Peltz notes the "big question is how large a crowd" the race will draw after ACS "lost one of its two annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in good part because of slipping attendance." Zucker stressed that the track and series "would have a year to promote the race." Zucker: "We fully expect to have a big crowd." She added a "significant portion" of the grandstand seats would be reserved for fans buying $30 general-admission tickets, and noted "kids 12 and under are free in the general-admission sections" (L.A. TIMES, 7/6). In California, Damian Dottore notes IndyCar in the past "toyed with the idea of coming back" to ACS, but "never ended up putting a deal together fearing that the grandstands would be two-thirds empty once again." However, next year's race is "going to get some help" from cross promotion at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 7/6). Speaking of IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, Zucker said, "The series is so cohesive, has so much momentum behind it, with all the changes that Randy made in the past year, the excitement he's bringing to the sport, I think the timing is just absolutely right" (ESPNLA.com, 7/5).

MAPPING OUT THE SCHEDULE: In L.A., Louis Brewster noted Bernard "has been adamant in maintaining a balance between ovals and street/road courses in the series." This year's series "features seven ovals in 17 events." IndyCar "already has two races in California, but the addition of ACS will be its only oval race." Meanwhile, it "remains to be seen whether the decision to include Fontana on the 2012 schedule signals a change" in IndyCar's relationship with ISC, which owns ACS. The IndyCar Series has "left ISC tracks" in recent years (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 7/5). In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin writes ACS "figures to be joined on the 2012 schedule by another oval track owned" by ISC. Bernard: "We need more ovals. We're trying to keep a balanced series." The ACS race "compensates for the expected loss of The Milwaukee Mile next year because of poor attendance" at The Milwaukee 225 on June 19 (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/6). SPEEDTV.com's Robin Miller reported Bernard has "had discussions with Elkhart Lake, Chicagoland, Laguna Seca, Houston, Detroit, Charlotte and China and would like to see 18 races in 2012 if possible" (SPEEDTV.com, 7/3).
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