SBD/March 29, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Houston Confirmed For '13 IndyCar Schedule; Circuit Looking For More U.S. Stops

The Izod IndyCar Series will return to Houston next year after Shell Oil Company signed a multiyear title sponsorship with promoter Mi-Jack Promotions. The Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston will take place at Reliant Park on October 4-6, 2013 (THE DAILY). In Houston, Russ Goodall reports there is a five-year deal between MJP, IndyCar and Reliant Park, while "there's a four-year sponsorship deal between MJP and Shell Oil Co." The Grand Prix of Houston "averaged more than 150,000 fans ... for the three days of racing at Reliant Park" in '06 and '07, when it was part of the Champ Car World Series. However, the race ended after the merger between Champ Car and IndyCar (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/29). Team Owner Roger Penske said that Houston is a "major market that is ideal for IndyCar's plans for expansion in the U.S." Driver Helio Castroneves said, "I don't know why we left Houston. But the timing is right now to start all over again, and it's an important market." IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said that the series is "not only looking for more American venues, but specific markets that will make a 'big difference' to sponsors, team owners and television partners." The '13 schedule has 16 races, and Bernard said that he "wants to add up to three more races by next year, all in American cities" (AP, 3/28).

THE FUTURE'S SO BRIGHT: SPEEDTV.com's Robin Miller reported reps from Austin (Texas), Palm Springs (Calif.), Pocono Raceway, Ft. Lauderdale, Richmond, Phoenix, Portland (Ore.) and Elkhart Lake (Wis.) have either met with Bernard about adding a race "or made it known they'd like to discuss the future." Bernard said the group running Circuit of the Americas in Austin "approached us about having a race next year and we're evaluating it." He added he is "optimistic" about a proposed street course race along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Ft. Lauderdale. Miller noted a road course is being built in Palm Springs "that may or may not be finished in time for 2013." There also have been "rumblings that Chicago might want to put on a street race by Lake Michigan and Australia desires bringing back Indy cars" with Australian natives Will Power and Ryan Briscoe, along with New Zealand native Scott Dixon, being regulars on the circuit (SPEEDTV.com, 3/28).
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