IMS Officials Lay Out Plan For IndyCar Road Course Race Next Season
Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials yesterday laid out a plan to "invigorate the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series with a road course race" at the facility next May, according to Curt Cavin of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. The IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis "will be an afternoon race on a circuit that’s being modified for better action." In addition to on-site access, WRTV-ABC will be allowed to show the race in the market, "something that’s never been allowed for the Indianapolis 500." Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles said that the race was "an investment in the future." For cost reasons, there "will be no modifications to the Brickyard Crossing golf course or the infield’s elevation." Miles said that adding lights "is also too expensive for a relatively small gain." Ticket sales "will be different than the 500, too, with only about one-fifth of the permanent seats utilized." They also will "be cheaper" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 10/2). The AP's Michael Marot noted race organizers "expect 22 to 26 cars to start the race, which will last approximately 80 laps." Miles is "searching for a title sponsor." IMS officials "hope to finish the resurfacing by Dec. 1, in time to add curbing and a signature chicane to the course and, hopefully, hold testing in the spring." Miles said that Hulman & Co. "would ask the Indiana Motorsports Commission to pay for the project" out of the $100M improvement fund approved earlier this year by the state government. The "versatility could put more races on Indy's future schedules" (AP, 10/1).
DROPPING THE GREEN FLAG: In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz in a front-page piece writes the new road race is "an inspired idea, even if it has rubbed some of the traditionalists the wrong way." Tradition is "important, but it fails to accommodate the necessities of modernity and 21st century business." The fact is IMS' control over the month of May "was dying." It was time to "drop-kick tradition and infuse the month with something new, something exciting, something novel." The GP of Indianapolis is a "well-intentioned, well-considered effort to re-make the month." The "only concern, and it’s a reasonable concern, is that it will dilute the Indy 500." The question is "whether fans, specifically local and regional fans, will be willing to open their wallets twice in one month to attend both races, no matter how affordable the road race is" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 10/2).
SELLING OPPORTUNITY: In Indianapolis, Anthony Schoettle noted IMS has “put its merchandise and food and beverage contracts up for bid for the first time in its 104-year history.” IMS officials are "reviewing bids and plan to award contracts as early as October." They are “asking bidders to commit to making unspecified infrastructure upgrades to help enhance the customer experience and increase sales.” IMS President Doug Boles said that there’s “a possibility some retail and food service functions might remain in-house.” But Boles indicated that he and Miles “are leaning toward outsourcing” (INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/30 issue).