Joe Jennings, IndyCar Correspondent
IndyCar chief executive officer Randy Bernard was all smiles this weekend as the city of Baltimore welcomed the IZOD IndyCar Series for the second time, and during a press conference Sunday morning, he said he fully expects to return here next year.
The Grand Prix of Baltimore is deemed successful and Bernard said he has been meeting with local business leaders to firm up arrangements for future engagement. He complimented Andretti Sports Marketing and J. P. Grant for their involvement and financial support along with everyone, including the fans, that have reached out to the series.
We have had great racing this year and if more teams want to come and see if they can beat our guys, we would love to have them.
Regarding the 2013 schedule, the IndyCar executive said plans are nearly complete for next season and he intends to present it to the IndyCar board of directors at its September 20 meeting. Without divulging specifics, he said a 19-race schedule can be anticipated with a double-header or two a part of the mix. He would also like to start the new season about two weeks ahead of the traditional late March opener in St. Petersburg.
IndyCar will focus on races in North America and not get involved with far-away races, such as in China, according to Bernard. Between one and three new venues will be added in 2013, including Houston and two more that are being actively negotiated. “We have solid partners that want to be a part of the series,” he said.
He confirmed that discussions with Pocono Raceway are ongoing and the idea of a triple-crown of 500-mile races would be well received. “After all wasn’t Pocono designed for IndyCar racing,” he said.
One or more standing starts are being planned for in 2013, as the new car was designed with that possibility in mind.
Asked whether there are opportunities for IndyCar should the rumored merger of the two major sports-car bodies take place, Bernard said he would willingly listen to parties that may want to transition to IndyCar, as long as they understand what they were getting into. “We want quality racing and want to see our series continue to grow,” he said. “We have had great racing this year and if more teams want to come and see if they can beat our guys, we would love to have them. But the one thing we want to stress is quality competition, which is what we want to continue to grow.”
Bernard would love to see Dodge or another manufacturer get involved with IndyCar. “I would love to see Dodge or SRT get involved with the sports,” he indicated. “The more manufacturers that we can bring into the series, it is very important to us, and that’s the most optimistic thing I see out of a Grand-Am and ALMS merger. There may be manufacturers that could possibly fund an IndyCar engine.”
Regarding cost reductions going forward, Bernard said he believes a 20 per cent reduction has been reached and team owners will not be allowed to build their own parts. Dallara will continue to be the only supplier.
Discussing the Firestone Indy Lights Series, Bernard believes the new car will go a long way toward strengthening the series and that once approved, he projects the entry list will grow.