SBD/May 15, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

IndyCar Renews Toronto Race Through '14, Looks To Add More Canadian Races

IndyCar CEO wants to concentrate on making Toronto, Edmonton races successful
Vancouver, Calgary and Quebec City are "on the radar screen" as the Izod IndyCar Series "looks to expand its pedal-to-the-metal footprint from 16 races to 19 next year," according to James Christie of the GLOBE & MAIL. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said that some towns on the existing schedule "will disappear and some will be added -- depending on the projected viability and potential size of the event -- but the overall strategy will be growth" in Canada. Bernard: "It would be great to have another race in Canada, but we want to concentrate on making Edmonton and Toronto the two best races we could have." His comments came yesterday as the Honda Indy Toronto race was renewed through '14. Christie notes "it is important to the series" for IndyCar to schedule downtown races in large markets. The 150,000 fans around the course caught Bernard "off guard." He said, "I'd forgotten how many race fans there are in Canada" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/15).

LOCAL INTEREST: In Toronto, Norris McDonald noted IndyCar driver and Ontario native Paul Tracy "has not raced in the series this season and said during a TV interview ... that he'd pretty much given up on IndyCar." Bernard said, "I would really like to have Paul Tracy in this year's race." He added, "I would like to be able to promote the fact that Paul Tracy will drive his last (Indy car) race at the Honda Indy Toronto this July." McDonald noted as much as Bernard "might like to land" Tracy for the July 8 race, Bernard knows "he's got an ace" in driver James Hinchcliffe, also an Ontario native. Bernard: "What a great representative of Canada and Indy car racing he’s turned out to be. He’s third in the standings going into the Indianapolis 500 (May 27) and he’s doing a great job representing one of the major sponsors in the series, Go Daddy" (THESTAR.com 5/14).

CHARM CITY: Andretti Sports Marketing President John Lopes said that by tomorrow the racing group "will have already checked off many of the tasks necessary to run" the '12 Baltimore Grand Prix. In Baltimore, Jack Lambert noted tomorrow is "when the company is expected to get approval from the city to manage the event for the next five years." Lopes said that the group "has signed a vendor to sell tickets, as well as a construction company to build this year’s race track." Lopes said that he "understands why some people are skeptical that Andretti Sports Marketing can organize a race by Labor Day weekend." Lambert noted the group "has less than 110 days to organize the event and Andretti will become [the] third organizing group for the race in the last six months." Lopes said the Andretti organization has “parachuted in” over the past to take charge of floundering races. Lopes said that the Andretti team is not willing to “undercut the price” of a title sponsorship just to get a deal for this year. He said that the group "hopes to attract a large number of presenting or lower-level sponsorships to this year’s race to build up a future foundation for the event" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/14).

UNDER THE HOOD: In Toronto, Dean McNulty writes, "Bernard did admit all is not perfect for the IndyCar Series that is still trying to right itself after more than a decade of uncivil war." One of the issues facing Bernard this season is "a return to multiple engine manufacturers to the series." Chevrolet and Lotus joined Honda this season, and Lotus "has underperformed while Chevrolet and Honda are in a battle over the legality" of each other's turbo chargers. Bernard rejected concerns that there will be "fewer than the historic 33 cars on the grid at the start of the Indy 500" because of the lack of engines. Bernard also "pointed to the balance sheet of the IndyCar Series as a reason to be confident that all is well." Bernard said, "We have hit our budgets -- in fact we have bettered them the past two seasons -- and I am thrilled with that." He added, "In the first four races this season we are up on attendance by 12 to 20%" (TORONTO SUN, 5/15).
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