SBD/June 14, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Bernard: New Qingdao Mayor Cancels China Race; IndyCar Looking At Options

Las Vegas Motor Speedway said they would be interested in hosting a race this year
A changing of the political guard “proved to be the undoing of IndyCar’s race in China, which was officially canceled Wednesday,” according to Robin Miller of SPEEDTV. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said, "Everything was moving forward as planned until the new mayor took office on March 28 and he didn't want to have a race at the same time as the Beer Festival.'' The race was scheduled on the streets of Qingdao for Aug. 19. IndyCar now has “four forseeable options: replacing China, just going with 16 races for 2012, pursuing a law suit since IndyCar had a contract or there could be the possibility of trying again in 2013.” Bernard said, “We're weighing our options on the future in China and replacing it is one of our primary options” (SPEEDTV.com, 6/13). ESPN.com’s Terry Blount noted IndyCar's contracts with sponsors “guarantee a 16-race schedule this season.” The series has 15 events without China, so “it needs to add a race to meet contract obligations.” Despite the “contentious nature of their relationship with TMS in the past few months, IndyCar Series officials have contacted TMS president Eddie Gossage about the possibility of ending the 2012 season at the Fort Worth track.” Gossage yesterday said, "We have been approached about it. ... I just don't know the answer right now." If a race is run in Texas, the event “would come three weeks after the scheduled season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.” ACS President Gillian Zucker said, "I know that having a race after ours is not Randy's first choice. His first choice is to add a race before ours. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen.” She added, "Randy has a challenge on his hands. It may not be possible. If we aren't the finale, it will be extremely disappointing, but it won't change everything we are doing here to promote the event" (ESPN.com, 6/13). In L.A., Louis Brewster notes the cancellation of the China race “isn't of Bernard's doing, but if he does execute Plan B, the biggest loser will be Auto Club Speedway.” Brewster: “Surely, after chasing the series for so long, ACS deserves a little more consideration” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 6/14).

POSSIBLE REPLACEMENTS: In Indianapolis, Anthony Schoettle noted some observers “have speculated the series will try to hold a replacement race at Road America in Wisconsin or even on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or at Lucas Oil Raceway.” But those potential solutions “aren't perfect” (IBJ.com, 6/13). Also in Indianapolis, Curt Cavin notes another possibility is the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif. But both Laguna Seca and Road America are “permanent road courses, and Bernard has often said the preference is to end the season on an oval track” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/14). In Dallas, Gerry Fraley notes IndyCar “would have to stage the added race on an oval because city street and road courses would not be available on short notice” (DALLASNEWS.com, 6/13). Gossage said, “Considering the shrinking window to properly promote the season finale to its fullest, we will have to make a decision fairly quickly” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 6/14). Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Ron Kantowski writes it is not “too late for IndyCar to return to Las Vegas,” the site of driver Dan Wheldon's death during the season finale last year. Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell said, "I would have liked to [have] seen them come back this year, even before the race at Texas went so well. Absolutely. Tell Randy I will take his phone call" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 6/14).

CHICAGOLAND WANTS BACK IN: In Chicago, Tina Akouris notes Chicagoland Speedway President Scott Paddock is “trying to get an IndyCar date back to Joliet” in future years. Paddock said, “We are going to re-engage again. This market supports IndyCar and we want them back for good. We conduct a lot of fan forums and it’s fair to say that there is a lot of interest.” Andretti Autosport Owner Michael Andretti said that he has “heard rumors that the series will race the 1.5-mile, D-shaped oval again.” But many drivers Andretti has talked to “expressed safety concerns with the Joliet track.” Andretti said, “Joliet makes (racing) more dangerous because there is more wheel-to-wheel and pack racing, and you have guys up front who may have never been there before” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/14).
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