RED BULL INDIANAPOLIS GP ANNOUNCEMENT Joie Chitwood, Carmelo Ezpeleta, Vito Ippolito, Bart Peterson, Kenny Roberts Jr., Kevin Schwantz, Ralph Sheheen Monday, July 16, 2007, Indianapolis Motor Speedway RALPH SHEHEEN: Good afternoon, ladies and...
RED BULL INDIANAPOLIS GP ANNOUNCEMENT
Joie Chitwood, Carmelo Ezpeleta, Vito Ippolito, Bart Peterson, Kenny Roberts Jr., Kevin Schwantz, Ralph Sheheen Monday, July 16, 2007, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
RALPH SHEHEEN: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Ralph Sheheen, and I am your emcee for today's historic announcement here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. On behalf of all the Speedway employees and the Hulman-George family, thank you for attending today's event. And for all of you watching on the World Wide Web, welcome to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
There are three segments to our program today, and segment No. 1 is already completed. At 2:45 p.m. today, more than 200 motorcyclists from around Central Indiana joined us on a ride from downtown Indianapolis to the Speedway to kick off this announcement. Their beautiful machines are parked outside in our Plaza. Riders, thank you for participating today, you did a wonderful job and brought some amazing machinery with you. How about a nice round of applause for our riders this afternoon. (Applause)
Besides the people you will be hearing from here today, there are a few other special guests we'd like to take a few minutes to introduce. Terry Angstadt, IndyCar Series president from the Commercial Division; Bob Bedell, president of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association; Andre Lacy, chairman of Lacy Diversified Industries; Rick Fuson, executive vice president of the Pacers Sports Entertainment; Tamara Zahn, the president of Indianapolis Downtown, Incorporated; Johnny Capels from USAC; Duane Dreyer, owner of Dreyer Motorsports; Jordan Miller, Red Bull Motorsports Communications; and Kirk Hendrix, 500 Festival president and CEO.
One of the reasons the Speedway's PR director, Ron Green, told me that he wanted me to come here and emcee this event for you today was my knowledge of auto racing, and yes, motorcycle racing. You might say I'm a little bit of a motorsports historian. Now, I'm not quite up to the level of the great Donald Davidson, who is, without question, the historian of this amazing facility here in Indianapolis, but I can hold my own. And I can tell you that the Indianapolis 500 is without question the greatest race in the world. (Applause)
SHEHEEN: And it was first run in 1911. Now, I can also tell you that the first running of the Indy 500 was two years later after the track was built in 1909. And to the surprise of many, the first motorized race of any kind here at the world's most famous racetrack took place on August 14th, 1909, and it was a motorcycle race. And as a historian, I can tell you, history does repeat itself. (Applause) (Video clip) (Applause)
SHEHEEN: That's pretty awesome, isn't it? That's just incredible. Well, there you have it, the most talented motorcycle riders in the world will bring their MotoGP bikes to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to race in the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Sunday, September 14th, 2008. (Applause)
MotoGP is the most sophisticated prestigious motorcycle racing series in the world. Riders compete on prototype 800cc machines from major manufacturers, including Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. MotoGP bikes, which create nearly 250 horsepower, despite weighing only 330 pounds, can reach speeds of nearly 210 miles an hour. The 2007 series schedule features 18 races in 15 countries around the globe.
Defending World Champion Nicky Hayden from Owensboro, Kentucky, is one of five Americans who have scored points in the 2007 MotoGP season. This machine over here to my left was one of the bikes Nicky used to win the championship in 2006.
Other U.S. riders include 2000 World Champion Kenny Roberts Jr., who joins us here today; Colin Edwards, John Hopkins, and Kenny's brother, Kurtis Roberts. Other MotoGP superstars include five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi of Italy and current points leader Casey Stoner of Australia.
Now, I know for a fact that the Speedway has been working on bringing a motorcycle race to the Speedway for quite some time. But let's let Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and COO Joie Chitwood tell us how we got to this historic day.
Joie, why don't you join me up here on stage. (Applause)
First of all, congratulations, I know based on the smile you have on your face all day this is a really big day for you. Tell us how it came about.
JOIE CHITWOOD: It is. Thanks, Ralph. It's a special day here today at the Speedway, but I have to tell you, working for a company like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway led by the Chief Executive Officer Tony George, his charge to us every day is to be an international leader in motorsports entertainment. I can't think of anything about today that doesn't live up to that. We are setting the stage for who we are and what we do, and to have MotoGP as part of that, it's truly a great partnership and a relationship I couldn't be more excited about, as well as the addition of Red Bull as the title sponsor, a company that's known for its sports promotion. We think that those three, Red Bull, MotoGP, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will set the bar high for those who attain leadership in the motorsports entertainment field. Today truly is a special day, Ralph.
SHEHEEN: So what made you think about bringing a motorcycle race to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
CHITWOOD: I have to tell you, you don't have to look very far when you look at our rich history and the things we've done here at the Speedway. You know, in 1909 this wonderful facility was built, and to think that motorcycles were the first product we ever put on track and to actually have one of those motorcycles here today, of course, I'm not sure it would classify as a motorcycle in terms of we think it today, it looks more like a bicycle with some parts on it, but you think about what's coming in our future. In 2009, we'll celebrate our 100th-year anniversary of the property itself; 2011, the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, to look back into our history and to pull that forward, it is truly special. We've been looking at unique things we can do to set ourselves apart and to think about this event joining the wonderful schedule we have with our NASCAR event and, of course, the Indianapolis 500, "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
I do have to point out we've had some staff working on it for a very long time. And is Mel Harder here? Mel, where are you? Where's Mel? (Applause)
If there's one staff person who's been so passionate about motorcycles coming to the Brickyard, it's Mel Harder. And Mel has helped us lead the way. And I know he's been our frequent caller to our friends at Dorna and working on today and getting it done.
But in terms of bringing it forward, it's taken us a couple of years and a number of visits at other venues, a number of phone conversations. All in all, though, I can tell you that the conversation was pleasant from the get-go. There are a lot of advantages to hosting this kind of an event, and it wasn't really difficult when you thought about it, Ralph, it really made a lot of sense.
And so for us, to be that international leader in motorsports entertainment, we announce the addition of this event right now.
SHEHEEN: Well, if we're going to make that announcement, I guess we need to make it official and sign some contracts, what do you think?
CHITWOOD: I think we do. If we could have the Dorna CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta, and IMS CEO Tony George please join us, bring the contract up here, that needs to be signed. (Applause)
SHEHEEN: Now that we've gotten that all taken care of, Mr. Ezpeleta, would you please give us some comments.
CARMELO EZPELETA: Good afternoon to all of you. For us, it's a real pleasure to be here today to announce the second grand prix in the United States. Indianapolis is one of the most iconic names for all fans of motorsports, thanks to its unique history.
MotoGP meanwhile is very proud of its own history. The FIM World Championship MotoGP is the oldest motorsport world championship in existence and has the biggest names in motorcycling competing for the world crown for over 58 seasons.
One of the names missing from that history until now was the famous Brickyard at Indianapolis, and many people may not realize that the very first race here was a motorcycle race. With the Brickyard anniversary coming up in 2009 and our own 60th anniversary the same year, it seems the MotoGP and Indianapolis should come together at this time.
Since MotoGP began racing in USA two years ago, interest of our sport has been continually on the increase. Thanks to the combined effort of Laguna Seca in the past two years, we have seen great racing in the States. And the grandstand filled with fans, I'm sure, the coming weekend we will enjoy another fantastic event in California.
There are many fans of MotoGP, and we say thanks to them for the past 10 years. We are talking about legendary names, such as Kenny Roberts Sr.; Freddie Spencer; Eddie Lawson; Wayne Rainey; Nicky Hayden; and especially those who join us today, Kenny Roberts Jr., and Kevin Schwantz. However, by coming to Indianapolis, we hope to attract a new great of fan who can enjoy the history of the sport but still be astonished with the skills, the thrills, and the riders.
Here today I have witnessed also the huge effort that we have undertaken to make this happen with the standards of the FIM. I am sure it will be one of the safest in the world. I am impressed with what has been done and have been planning to do. I expect it will be one of the best of the world. On behalf of the MotoGP family, we believe that to be able to run the races in the States represent a fantastic opportunity for the sport. Even with help and harmony in terms of growth, and we hope this is just the start of a long and happy partnership.
I'd finally like to thank Dorna for their continued effort, of course, everybody here in Indianapolis, motorsports, Laguna Seca and TBS folks. Thank you very much. (Applause)
SHEHEEN: Indianapolis is the racing capital of the world, and racing has a very enthusiastic mayor in this city. Please welcome to the podium Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson. (Applause)
Nice to see you, Mr. Mayor. Some thoughts?
BART PETERSON: Well, good afternoon everybody. What a special day this is. I've got to tell you, there are times when you just have to rip off your mayor hat and just be a fan. And I am excited about this. I think this is going to knock the socks off of people when they see MotoGP right here in Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
So it is with a certain amount of personal enthusiasm, a great deal of personal enthusiasm, but also a great deal of gratitude that I thank all of those responsible for pulling this together, and I want to begin with Tony George, just such an extraordinary leader in our community who has brought so much to the City of Indianapolis. And I know how hard he has worked on taking the Indianapolis Motor Speedway up a level, then up a level, then up a level, then up a level, and it's remarkable. He just never seems to see a ceiling.
And so Tony, I just want to say on behalf of all the people of Indianapolis, of central Indiana, and of the entire state of Indiana, thank you for everything that you do for us. (Applause)
Carmelo, thank you, and welcome to Indianapolis. You know you're going to find a very enthusiastic American audience here in the Midwest and in our city. We know that, as well, and I want to say thank you and welcome to you. And to Joie, thanks for all of your hard work on this and the entire Indianapolis Motor Speedway family. I can't tell you how much this means to the City of Indianapolis. This is going to bring people from other countries to our city, this is going to bring people from around the United States to our city, it's going to be an enormous boost to our strong hospitality industry here in the City of Indianapolis, but it's also going to do that thing that the hospitality industry does for us, which is it not only brings people from elsewhere, but it gives the people here exciting things to do. That's what the Indianapolis Motor Speedway does, it makes this a great place to live, and this is an even better place to live today with the announcement of the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. Congratulations and thank you. (Applause)
Continued in part 2