Michigan Int'l Speedway President Expresses Interest In IndyCar Race
Michigan Int'l Speedway President Roger Curtis is “interested in bringing open-wheel racing to the track, and IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard says he'd like to start a dialogue with MIS after the series canceled a race in China later this season,” according to Noah Trister of the AP. Curtis said that he is “always interested in bringing an open-wheel race to his track, but the business model has to make sense.” Bernard said, "Our business department put a call in to Roger late this afternoon to explore any potential opportunities and see what type of interest either side has." While Detroit's Belle Isle hosted the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix earlier this month, IndyCar's contract with that event "wouldn't preclude a race at MIS” (AP, 6/14). Curtis on Thursday said, "I'd sit down with him. Why wouldn't we? We love open-wheel racing here; it was fantastic racing. I guess they don't want another high-speed oval, but that is what Texas is." Curtis said that he had talks with IndyCar “over the winter about a possible comeback of the open-wheel series to MIS.” But he said that “things seemed to sour … when Bernard said during Indy 500 week that MIS was not part of his plans” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/15). In Detroit, David Goricki wonders if MIS could “pull off hosting an IndyCar race in September.” Curtis said, "I don't know why not. We've put together a lot quicker than that. Operationally, from an event standpoint that's what we do” (DETROIT NEWS, 6/15).
DRIVER FAVORITE: In Milwaukee, Dave Kallmann notes Road America was “an overwhelming choice No. 1 or 1a when a handful of drivers were asked what track IndyCar should use as a replacement for the canceled race in China.” The Elkhart Lake track had “sought the Aug. 19 weekend when it was talking with IndyCar -- pairing it with the American Le Mans Series as the Sunday portion of a doubleheader -- but when China came along Road America dropped out of the running" for a '12 date. It then “filled that date with other on-track activities.” Driver James Hinchcliffe said, "We'll race on Friday. I don't care. We're in a difficult situation. We've got to make the best of it” (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/15). The AP’s Chris Jenkins noted several drivers in West Allis, Wisc., for Saturday's race at the Milwaukee Mile “mentioned Road America in Elkhart Lake as a potential replacement venue for the China race.” The road course “drew huge crowds when the now-defunct CART racing series ran there in the 1980s and '90s.” But contractual provisions with the Milwaukee event "would prevent" Bernard from speaking to Road America promoters "until after this weekend's race.” Still, it is “not clear if the track is under consideration” (AP, 6/14).
OFFERING THEIR SERVICES: Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell on Thursday said that he offered the track to Bernard “for a season-ending race.” But he said Bernard "politely declined." Meanwhile, Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials also confirmed that the facility's road course “is not being considered as a replacement site” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/15). In Chicago, Jack McCarthy writes it is “hard to imagine the city being unable to handle an event the size of an IndyCar race.” McCarthy suggested the city hosts a “late summer Streets of Chicago Grand Prix-like course that takes some of the world's fastest drivers down Lake Shore Drive on a sunny Sunday.” A blueprint for a Chicago race “does exist,” as there were plans for a “proposed 1981 lakefront Formula One Grand Prix.” Then Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne announced a July 4th weekend race covering a 2.7-mile downtown course, but executing Byrne's plan "as she drew it is impossible.” McCarthy: “Some roads have changed. But the skeleton of her plan is still here” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/15).