IZOD Indy Car Series CEO Randy Bernard dropped a big hint Saturday night that despite making inquiries about a replacement for the cancelled Xingdao, China event, Bernard was ready to go ahead without finding a substitute venue in 2012.
Having found no takers for an Indy Car event at Texas Motor Speedway, Road America or Michigan International Speedway – or at least no takers at a price that Indy Car was willing to pay – the series today announced that it was proceeding without replacing the failed China event.
- Indy Car will not replace China on 2012 slate
- California event bumped up to 500 miles
- California Speedway first hosted open-wheel cars in 1997
- Shortest Indy Car schedule since 2006
The cancellation drops the season slate from 16 to 15 races, marking the fewest races on the Indy Car Series schedule since 2006.
"After carefully considering all possible options for an additional race, we felt it was in our best interest to keep our schedule at its current 15-event lineup," said Randy Bernard, CEO, Indy Car. "We want to make sure that when we add events to our roster they have long-term potential and are given every opportunity to be successfully promoted. The more we explored, the more we felt like we were rushing what could be good, long-lasting opportunities for the sport.”
Series title sponsor IZOD supports the decision made by Indy Car, according to a quote attributed to Mike Kelly, Executive Vice President, The PVH Marketing Group. Kelly has been the main champion of the Indy Car/PVH partnership both in the public and in the boardroom ever since inking a personal sponsorship deal with Ryan Hunter-Reay more than five years ago.
"As the entitlement partner of the series, we agree that it is in the best interest of the series to focus on a long-term strategy for the future schedule instead of a quick fix for this year," Kelly said.
To beef up the end of the slate, the series announced that it would increase the distance of the season-ending event at California Speedway to 500 miles. The event will be the first 500-mile Indy Car race to be run at the two-mile Fontana oval since Jimmy Vasser won in 2002, taking the checkers in what was then a open-wheel record average speed of 197.995mph.
The track began hosting Indy Cars in 1997, but has not seen the open-wheel cars there since 2005. All of the CART-sanctioned races from 1997-2002 were 500-mile races, but the distances were dropped to 400 miles when the Indy Racing League took the date.
"We wanted to do something special to enhance the excitement to the season finale and renew the tradition of 500-mile open-wheel races in Southern California," said Bernard. "We think it's something our fans will enjoy and adds another element to what is already shaping up to be an exciting championship battle."