Mark Miles Weighs IndyCar Road Race At IMS Leading Up To Indy 500
Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, in "arguably one of his boldest initiatives," is considering an IndyCar road race in early May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway "to make the month bigger and better," according to Anthony Schoettle of the INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. Sources said that Miles is "eyeing May 10 for the inaugural event and has already opened conversations with potential title sponsors." Miles also appears "ready to pull the trigger on major changes" that the Hulman-George family, which owns IMS, "could not or would not consider." Miles "doesn't have the family's emotional connections to Speedway traditions, so he's more able to make tough, objective business decisions." He admits that the course, built in '99 to host an annual F1 race, "will need upgrades before the IndyCar Series is given the green." Schoettle noted the idea "also would need" approval from the Hulman & Co. BOD. Miles "insists he's not trying to tread on tradition by having dual IndyCar races in May," and explained that he is "just trying to restore some horsepower to the month." Miles "might need board approval to ensure ticket prices are high enough to make a worthwhile profit yet low enough to attract throngs of fans." He also needs to "find a way to make sure this doesn't cannibalize the Indianapolis 500." He could "offer a dual road race/Indy 500 ticket, but it's likely too late to do that" for next year. Meanwhile, Miles is "strongly considering adding lights" to IMS (IBJ.com, 9/3). In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin reports the Hulman-George family will "decide later this month" if there will be a road race at the track next May. The race would "serve as the formal kickoff to Indianapolis 500 festivities." Some in IndyCar "welcome this break in tradition, others do not." But what "does seem clear is that with sponsorship, it would be a profitable event" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 9/5).
ALL SIGNS POINT TO...: ESPN.com's John Oreovicz wrote, "You can bet your bottom dollar that there will be an Indy car race on the IMS road course next year -- especially now that I'm starting to hear rumors that the IndyCar Series' event in Sao Paulo is going to fall by the wayside." The notion of an IndyCar road race weekend kicking off Indy 500 activities "has some old timers up in arms, but it's not the worst plan the Speedway could come up with." Driver Graham Rahal said, "We've lost the whole 'Month of May,' and I think it would be cool to bring it back." Oreovicz wrote it is "unrealistic to think that IMS will fill the massive facility with fans for an early May Indy car race, nor even attract a crowd of 100,000." But with the opening weekend of Indy 500 practice "reportedly drawing fewer than 7,500 fans, any moderately successful full-fledged race weekend would improve the Speedway's bottom line" (ESPN.com, 9/4).