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SBD Global/June 3, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

IndyCar Considering Adding Int’l Races In Attempt To Make Series More Appealing



IndyCar is considering adding races outside of North America to its schedule.
America’s premier open-wheel racing series, IndyCar, is considering adding races outside North America to the calendar, according to C.J. O’Donnell, chief marketing officer of IndyCar. O’Donnell told SBD Global at the Indy 500 that nothing has been set in stone and all options are still on the table. Media reports have suggested that the series is looking to add off-season races around the globe. But O’Donnell also did not rule out the addition of int’l races to the current schedule. "We are always looking for ways to make the series more attractive and potential races outside of North America seem to be one way to accomplish it," he said. The majority of teams support the push for an increased number of int’l races. However, O’Donnell added that concerns in terms of increased logistics costs have to be sorted out before any real progress can be made in the area. A team that would certainly profit from races outside North America is Chip Ganassi Racing. The team's driver lineup consists of New Zealand native Scott Dixon, Brazilian Tony Kanaan, Australian Ryan Briscoe and British-born Charlie Kimball. "[Int’l races provide] something added on, which is going to help deliver more value to our partners," said Steve Lauletta, president of CGR. Analysis based on social media activity showed that IndyCar has a substantial following in countries such as Brazil and Colombia. In the past, the series has held races in Brazil and Japan.

A LONG WAY TO THE TOP: While int’l races might increase the series' global appeal and provide new revenue streams for the teams, they are just part of IndyCar's greater strategic plan of becoming the No. 1 motorsports competition in the U.S. O’Donnell said that the biggest difficulty in achieving this goal is finding the right partners and race promoters to put on IndyCar races year after year. He compared negotiations between the series and race promoters to a car purchase at a dealership. "The difference is that negotiations take more than 10 minutes and the result is not always satisfying to either side," he said. IndyCar welcomes other int’l racing series such as F1, which is pushing for a second U.S. race, and the new all-electric Formula E, which will debut in September and includes two U.S. races, to its home turf and sees them as assets rather than obstacles to its growth and expansion plans. "More events are great for fans and help all forms of motorsports here in the U.S. to increase in popularity," O’Donnell said. This year’s IndyCar schedule features only two races outside of the U.S. -- both will take place in Toronto.
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