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An aspiring motorsports journalist’s personal blog.
Rick Frenette, the Executive Director of the Wisconsin State Fair Park (home to the Milwaukee Mile), say he is “pretty positive” Milwaukee will return to the 2012 IndyCar schedule.
In recent weeks, speculation has increased that IndyCars will race again on the legendary one mile oval. The Mile was initially left off the 2012 IndyCar schedule but that looks set to change. In interviews with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Dave Kallman, both the CEO of IndyCar and the Executive Director of the Milwaukee Mile indicated talks are ongoing and moving in a positive direction. But there is tension over one aspect of contract negotiations that might ultimately derail talks of returning to Milwaukee. That tension revolves around longevity.
IndyCar in the past few outings at Milwaukee have only re-upped on one year contracts. The uncertainty around the future of the race seems to make it more difficult to sign the dotted line for Rick Frenette, the Executive Director of Wisconsin State Fair Park– home to the Milwaukee Mile. “The hard part with us is with the uncertainty of something being there forever and being positive because you watch the (IndyCar) schedule go out this year and they changed a number of tracks,” Frenette said.
Some complaints on IndyCar’s end is that the venue needs significant updates which becomes something of a Catch-22 for Milwaukee. “If we ever got some more certainty (. . .) Right now we’re not spending a lot of capital improvement dollars on the track either because we’re not going to put money into something that won’t pay me back,” said Frenette. IndyCar CEO, Randy Bernard, was equally bullish as well as optimistic. “We’d love to have Milwaukee, but it’d have to make sense for a promoter to be able to go there,” he said. ” If the opportunity exists, we’d like to try to do it. But I don’t think we’re any further. Until we sign that dotted line, we’re no further,” Bernard added.
If a deal is put together, sponsorship would have to be finalized inside of five months. That may sound insurmountable but, Bernard says, procuring sponsorship would have to come down to existing relationships anyways. “If you didn’t have it by October (when IndyCar was finalizing its race contracts), it’s going to take relationships. Hopefully some sponsors will still have some money in their budgets to make this work.” Time to promote the race to ticket-buyers was also not a top concern for Bernard. “Most of your fan base for any sport today will buy their ticket in the last 18 days,” he said.
Bernard also clarified the addition of Milwaukee would not be based out of desperation. Currently the 2012 IndyCar schedule only holds 15 events, an amount deemed lacking by most of IndyCar’s fan-base. “If we have to live with 15 events this year, we can live with 15 events.” Bernard indicated there is another racetrack, in addition to Milwaukee, holding interest in securing a 2012 race but would not disclose which track it might be.
Bernard admitted the Milwaukee Mile’s future is bleak without a big-name event like IndyCar. “We owe the Milwaukee people. We owe the track,” Bernard said. “If we don’t do this, the chances of that track becoming mothballed, I think, is a possibility.”
Frenette felt similar. “We hope that we can get it back and have a successful event, a little better than last year, and they will continue to come back. It gives the Milwaukee Mile some activity. There’s not much else out there,” he said.
Rubens Barrichello was again the talk of the paddock as IndyCar testing resumed at Sebring Tuesday. The f1 veteran, with 22 years of experience in the pinnacle of motorsport, brought out some uncommon faces to see during pre-season testing. In addition to KV Racing owners, Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven, IndyCar president, Randy Bernard, was also on hand in Sebring to see Barrichello embark on his first IndyCar venture.
“(Barrichello)’s a champion,” Bernard told the Associated Press, “a driver who would be a tremendous addition to a series.” Bernard also indicated IndyCar might assist in Barrichello’s decision to move to IndyCar financially. “If there is a transition, I want him to know that we’re here to help him,” Bernard said to racintoday.com
KV Racing’s other driver, and Barrichello’s good friend, Tony Kanaan also provided insight onto Barrichello’s future. “Right now, we don’t have anyone signed for the other two cars. You can tell by his face he’s having a lot of fun,” Kanaan told Speed.com. “By the time he gets out of the car he’ll have a pretty good idea what he wants to do,” Kanaan added.
Today is the last day Barrichello is set to test with KV Racing while the majority of the IndyCar teams are set for a three day test.
On-board footage from Barrichello’s test at Sebring can be seen below.
In a recent interview with Autoweek, IndyCar head Randy Bernard commented on the future of IndyCar’s schedule. Keeping in line with much of the news surrounding additions to the 2012 schedule, Bernard discussed the Milwaukee Mile’s possible return as well as a race through the streets of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The interview with Autoweek was in advance of his Feb 13th “State of the Sport” speech and provided hints as to what the speech may entail. Bernard acknowledged Milwaukee’s return is possible but hangs on additional state and local financial support for the event in West Allis, Wisconsin.
He also recently met with officials from Disney in Orlando regarding a return to “the Mickyard,” the speedway at Walt Disney World where IndyCar held some of its first races. Bernard commented on the massive renovations needed there in order to accommodate an IndyCar return. Among them: the installation of SAFER barriers, and bleacher and asphalt maintenance.
Bernard neglected to go into detail about many of the projects currently under evaluation by IndyCar, but he did mention one other race that looks nearly certain to appear on the 2013 calendar: Houston. Champ Car fans remember the floodlit race through the streets of Houston, Texas promoted by Mike Lanigan. Lanigan promoted several Champ Car events and also went on to partner with Newman/Haas Racing and has since moved on to partner with Rahal-Letterman Racing to form Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing. (Is that too many hyphens?)
Road America was surprisingly left out of the conversation as many expect it to appear on the 2013 schedule. The Baltimore Grand Prix, despite losing its promoter, looks solid. Bernard says he expects to pick a new promoter soon with the best interests of IndyCar and the Grand Prix in mind.
Bernard also touched on car counts for the season. 27 engine contracts have been signed for the season with a few pending. Once the others are secured, Bernard said, “you’re right there at 30.”
The final car counts will come to realization in just over two months as the IndyCar season opens on the streets of St. Petersburg on March 25th.
IndyCar CEO, Randy Bernard, has publicly stated he would like to see a return of the legendary Milwaukee Mile to IndyCar’s 2012 schedule. The suggested date looks for a mid-June weekend. Traditionally, the Mile was always held immediately following the Indy 500.
Despite a possible date two weeks later than normal, one must wonder how much effective promoting of the event could be accomplished. The reasoning behind Milwaukee’s initial departure from the schedule was poor crowds resulting from poor promoting. So, would a last minute addition to the schedule lead to a permanent absence?
Other rumors surrounding the last minute addition of the famed 1-mile oval suggest its addition is a necessity after the mass exodus away from IndyCar’s 1.5-mile ovals following Dan Wheldon’s tragic death at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Currently there are but four ovals slated for 2012: Indianapolis (2.5 miles), Texas (1.5 miles), Iowa (0.875 miles) and AutoClub Speedway (2 miles) in Fontana, CA.
One other reason for the Mile’s potential addition is to cover the typically IndyCar saturated Milwaukee-Chicago market. In the past, IndyCar has run events at both the Milwaukee Mile and Chicagoland Speedway. With neither currently on the schedule, IndyCar might look to hastily put an event in place to satisfy the demographic. The addition of Milwaukee might provide a temporary solution when, in 2013, IndyCar looks to plan a double-header weekend with ALMS at the fan-favorite Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI.
Since the unification of American open-wheel racing in 2008, former Champ Car fans have eagerly awaited a race at the 4.048 mile track through the rolling hills of Wisconsin. Open-wheel’s loss of the track has led to NASCAR’s gain as the Nationwide series has raced there for the past two years.
If IndyCar returns to Road America, the track will be the only in America to host every major racing series in the country: AMA Superbikes, Grand-Am, NASCAR, ALMS, and IndyCar.