Andretti Announces Milwaukee IndyFest Will Be Back For Another Year
Andretti Autosport Owner Michael Andretti told the crowd at Saturday’s Milwaukee IndyFest that the event “would happen again in 2013,” according to Dave Kallmann of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Tickets went on sale yesterday via the milwaukeeindyfest.com website and are available “through the State Fair Park” starting today. The 36,000-seat stands “were about half full -- with nearly all of the best seats occupied -- and the infield crowd appeared better than in recent years.” If the crowd “was in the low-20,000 range, that would make it at least one-third larger than last year's.” Andretti said, "I think we had a great crowd for the first shot out here. It's something to build on. Hopefully we're going to be back here ... for a long time after that. We're excited about that” (JSONLINE.com, 6/16). ESPN.com’s John Oreovicz wrote the grandstands at the Milwaukee Mile “weren't close to full, but the hastily organized event drew well enough to give Andretti the confidence to announce that he will bring Indy cars back to The Mile in 2013.” In short, “no individual is investing more into Indy car racing than Michael Andretti, and everyone should be grateful for the effort and expenditure that one of the most successful drivers in the sport's history is putting in.” Oreovicz: “Right now, frankly, [IndyCar CEO Randy] Bernard needs additional aggressive promoters like Andretti” (ESPN.com, 6/16).
THE REPLACEMENTS: The FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM reported despite IndyCar searching for a race to replace its recently canceled event in China, Texas Motor Speedway “has taken itself out of the running.” TMS President Eddie Gossage in a statement said that there were “too many issues and obstacles to add a second IndyCar event and promote it successfully” (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 6/15). Andretti said that IndyCar officials “are free to negotiate with what should be its rival.” He said, “They have a window to talk to (Road America). I don't remember the details, but they can talk to them, and they should talk to them." In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin wrote this comes in the aftermath of having the Aug. 19 street race in Qingdao, China, canceled. Road America “could take on this race on the China date because it has a sports car weekend already lined up” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/17). Speed’s Robin Miller said with the IndyCar Series cancelling its race in China that date on the calendar will “be replaced.” Miller: “If you took a poll from most drivers and all the fans who were at Wisconsin State Fair Park yesterday it would be right up the road at Elkhart Lake.” Miller cited a “doubleheader there" in '07 with IndyCar and Champ Car and “it was very successful and that’s exactly what people want. ... That’s still the best road course in North America and it makes so much sense. They don’t have time to go out and promote another race in August or September. This is already on the docket, you can make it an affordable ticket and have a hell of a crowd.” Miller said IndyCar will continue to pursue a date in China, “When they offer you $7 million to go race I’m sure they’re going to keep talking about it. … They’re going to keep the lines of communication open just for no other reason it’s a huge payday” (“Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain,” Speed, 6/17).
PICKING UP STEAM: In Iowa, Andy Hamilton wrote the IndyCar Series “lost steam during a 13-year power struggle that divided the sport into two leagues and dented its popularity.” KV Racing Technology co-Owner Jimmy Vasser said, “The one thing that comes up quite often is the TV package and the lack of reach and the lack of ratings. A lot of the business is tied to that as far as sponsorship and corporate involvement. When you get that ball rolling, it really makes the reach even farther.” IndyCar drivers and owners “are hopeful the product on the track leads to a bigger audience and a return to a popularity the sport experienced decades ago.” Hamilton notes the ‘95 Indy 500 -- the last before the split --“drew more than 8 million viewers and achieved a 9.4 Nielsen rating.” The ratings “plummeted to 7.1 the following year, 5.0 in 1997 and didn’t top 6.0 again until 2005 when Danica Patrick’s debut gave the sport a momentary push.” This year’s race drew a 4.34 rating and attracted 6.9 million viewers -- an 8% increase from ’11 (DESMOINESREGISTER.com, 6/16).