2009 schedule announcement press conference, part 3

Continued from part 2 Q: How does the approach to St. Pete change now that it's the opener in terms of making it a big blockbuster event, where you have a lot more eyes on you than when you were in the second event? KEVIN SAVOREE: ...

Continued from part 2

Q: How does the approach to St. Pete change now that it's the opener in terms of making it a big blockbuster event, where you have a lot more eyes on you than when you were in the second event?

KEVIN SAVOREE: Obviously I think we're going to do a lot of the same things. I think Tim (Ramsberger) and the team down there have done a great job leading up to the event. We expect a lot of the same. Obviously as the season opener, I think the IndyCar Series, I think we'll have a lot more if it's possible. I mean obviously we had a lot in the past. I think we'll probably have some more driver appearances in markets. And I just think the buildup to the season opener, it just gets more attention. I think perhaps the partnership we've had with the IndyCar Series will just continue to expand on that and use the assets that the league has and we'll work through those things.

Q: What are your thoughts on St. Pete's place in the evolution of the series? You're one of the first places to prove that street racing will work. And now the series is where it's got almost half non-oval events?

KEVIN SAVOREE: I mean, as a competitor, Michael (Andretti) and Kim (Green) and I, on behalf of Andretti Green, Brian touched on it earlier, we love this formula. We love the series, the diversity of the competition and the diversity of the schedule. Brian said it earlier. If you come out on top of the series, it's an incredible accomplishment, and I think especially this year. Week in, week out, it is so tough, so tough on the teams, the drivers the equipment.

It's been tough. And I think the guys have done a good job for next year in trying to spread things out a little bit and give the guys a couple of breaks. But again for us we just see, we just see this series is since unification there's been so many positive news stories and they just continue to go. It's like today, here we are the end of July with the schedule out. And I think that's just another positive sign of the good things that are happening. And I know Terry and his guys are working really hard on league sponsorship. And as those things continue to come into focus and come into the public domain, I think there's just so many positive things out there. The series is on an uptick, and I think that's especially incredible when you consider the economy that we're all working with. So my hat's off to them.

As far as our place with being the first non-oval back in 2005, I mean obviously Michael and Kim and I feel really -- it's a great feeling to know that we had a small part in that. And, again, a small part. It was really Tony George and his team and so on that said, look, we want to try something else. And I think maybe in some small way that's part of how everything continued to evolve. So if we were part of that evolution, we're thrilled to have been there.

Q: Terry, does the image of the series that you project or the marketing of it change at all next year with eight non-ovals and beginning the season on the street course, that will be the first chance for a lot of fans and maybe non-fans you're trying to lure in to see one of your events for 2009?

TERRY ANGSTADT: I really think that kind of the marketing direction and the positioning we've created over the last couple of years is sound. And I think that is the sign of something that you hopefully fit on, that you've hit on that has some longevity. That I don't think that's going to shift. We really emphasize speed, technology and innovation, diversity and green as our attributes.

You look at those attributes wrapped around the St. Pete location, they all fit and resonate. And in particular, as Brian and Kevin have both touched on, diversity is not only in the venues we compete at. But also in our driver mix.

So it's a great fit and, again, we could not be more excited to kick it off in your beautiful community.

Q: Terry or Brian, this is the first time I guess since 2005 that you guys have put an LA race on your schedule. I know you tried at Dodger Stadium, Palm Springs, other ideas. What does it mean for you guys as a series to have a race in LA on the schedule already now?

TERRY ANGSTADT: It's just critically important to our long-term growth. I certainly don't need to tell you anything about the importance of the southern California market in most any business, let alone something that is outdoor and athletic and sporting like we do. So it's critical to our future to figure out a southern California viable location with the history that Jim (Michaelian) and the Champ Car guys have created in Long Beach. It's an outstanding opportunity to come into something with all that equity, that you're really not starting from scratch.

So we're very, very fortunate and feel very blessed to be able to button into that great, great event.

Q: I was talking to (California Speedway President Gillian) Zucker over there, and she said you guys had talked about doing an end-of-the-season race there, banquet the following day in Hollywood, or what have you. Does California Speedway fit into your plans, or are they the deal, too, where they've got 100,000 seats there as well and it's too big of a place?

TERRY ANGSTADT: That one is, again, for the current stage of our development, that is a bit of a challenging venue for us. So that's why we feel so good about being able to go to Long Beach. And, again, maybe some day we'll grow into a venue like that. But I don't see that real soon.

Q: Terry, MIS, great heritage and great track. With oval racing, any comments in particular in view of the comments you just mentioned with California?

TERRY ANGSTADT: Again, it's a bit of a, it's kind of a good news-bad news, I guess from the IndyCar Series perspective. Michigan is owned by a good partner of ours. They have a couple of good NASCAR dates that put us in a bit of a box. So it simply doesn't work so well.

So we had to kind of move on and stick to our principles of finding and optimizing a great, for next year, 18-race schedule. So that's what we did. We have a lot of respect for the guys that operate that track as well as ISC, but it's just not a fit for us right now.

Q: Terry, I wanted to get your reaction to the story that was in the Sports Business Journal on Monday. It said basically looking at '09 and beyond you're having a hard time selling the television rights to your schedule beyond the Indy 500. Can I get your reaction to that story?

TERRY ANGSTADT: Well, we have a contract right now with ABC and ESPN that runs through '09. And it includes a variety of terms that pertain to future rights, negotiations and confidentiality. So with that said, we do and need to abide by those terms. As soon as we have a telecast schedule ready for '09, we're going to button that into this schedule. But we're just not ready to announce that quite yet.

Q: Are you confident that you're going to be able to continue to sell a package of all your races in terms of the television rights going forward?

TERRY ANGSTADT: 100 percent.

Q: Terry, I know we've spoken about this throughout the season. How close did Portland come to being on this schedule, and where did the ball drop on it?

TERRY ANGSTADT: Well, thanks very much for the call and the question. And I think characterizing it as a dropped ball is maybe a little severe. We had a great meeting with a number of representatives from the Portland area. In fact, two different groups.

And we are quite confident through some of our further due diligence that that's a market that we know has a lot of open wheel fans. It has a good history. We think the venue is good and interesting, and we think we're going to get there. It did not develop in time to include it for '09. But we certainly have a continued interest.

Q: That's the good news-bad news for the fans then. That this isn't necessarily going to always be like that, but at least for next year?

TERRY ANGSTADT: Exactly. And it could not be really completed for next year. But we're hopeful it will be in the future.

Q: Brian, this is the third year now that you guys are coming out to Iowa Speedway. And after listening to some of these other venues that have been tossed around here today that you're not going to or and so forth, what's your relationship with Iowa Speedway grown into?

BRIAN BARNHART: We've been very pleased, actually. Our inaugural event there with our relationship with ethanol has been supported very well by the ethanol industry. Titled both of the events taking place there. I was a little disappointed with our on-track performance the first year. Especially coming back this year I could not be more pleased. I thought we put on a great show, 250 laps with great product, great overtaking and an entertaining event. I was tickled with what we did on track the second time around. And I look forward to -- I think it's interesting that Iowa has the second largest number of oval tracks of any state in the Union.

Very knowledgeable racing community. It's a very proportionally built facility with a lot of ticket-buying interest where we've had a sell-out both years we've participated there. So the energy around the event, the knowledgeable race fans and the good show we put on this year made for a great combination and one we hope continues into the future.

Q: Do you anticipate a continued relationship with Iowa Speedway?

BRIAN BARNHART: It's worked well for us. As I said, especially with the relationship with ethanol and the fact that we've had two very successful events there, I would hopefully and certainly think that it can continue into the future.

Q: Terry, I was wondering about the change in moving Kentucky a week up, and since mid-Ohio came to the scene a couple of years ago, about now Kentucky and Mid-Ohio back to back?

TERRY ANGSTADT: Any questions from us about that? Is that your question?

Q: No concerns, just how much of a better fit it is now that Kentucky and Mid-Ohio are back to back?

TERRY ANGSTADT: We like both venues. We think we certainly race well at both venues. And we really do appreciate the movement on both tracks to help us accommodate the breaks that we needed to create our schedule. And it was funny because I was talking with someone that said, oh, gosh, only one venue off and one on and this was a pretty easy schedule to put together.

It is not an easy process, and it really does take the cooperation of all groups to make those types of shifts. Even when they're not dramatic, it creates lots of issues. So we appreciate the movement by both and we do think it has created a very sound schedule and like where both races are positioned.

Q: Was there a lot of reception from the Mid-Ohio folks about trying to go back to mid-August because in part these Champ Car events, that's where they were traditionally on the old schedule?

TERRY ANGSTADT: I don't think that was a big consideration, but it did work well. So we, again, appreciated Michelle (Trueman Gajoch)'s efforts.

Q: Just with Kentucky coming up next week, how happy are you guys with the progress of attendance last year and with estimates of this year's crowd?

TERRY ANGSTADT: We had a great crowd last year and really liked the improvement over the previous year. And what we're hearing is well up. So we're looking forward to getting there and greeting and interacting with all the fans in that market.

Q: Terry, can you comment on the possible synergy benefits of having Toronto and Watkins Glen compared one week apart and I guess what's the fit with Watkins Glen being back on the schedule for next year?

TERRY ANGSTADT: Again, we've just seen steady improvement at our Watkins Glen event. Craig Rust and his team do a great job promoting that. We love the 4th of July weekend. We brought a little more festivity to the race this year with IZOD, our new sponsor, and we do think that's a great fit leading into Toronto. And then having that one week break into Edmonton. We think that's a very nice kind of swing for our not only our teams but our fans. So we like the way those three fit together.

Q: Your first comment today was that this is not a perfect schedule but something to the effect of progress for the future. Can you elaborate on that? I know there's been a lot of talk, of course, about other races here today like in Portland and Cleveland and so forth. So can you elaborate on that and also what about Road America, is that a future thing? And do you envision, how big a schedule do you envision down the road?

TERRY ANGSTADT: Not that there's any real magic to this number, but we think we can grow into a very well distributed and optimized 20-race schedule eventually. And I don't know if that's next year or maybe the year following. But I think that's a nice goal to raise the overall value of our business, the overall value of our teams to be able to support and put on 20 great races. So that's kind of a goal. And so that leads us to can we enter the markets that I've talked about earlier in an effective way and really have good access for our fan base to find an event of ours and not have to travel too far to do it.

Q: To follow up on that, if you were just going to do 20 races and there's been talk of, what, three or four other races already, former Champ Car events, that means you have to make some hard choices of dropping some other races, I would assume?

TERRY ANGSTADT: That's business. It truly is. And that's an exercise that we went through this year. It's an exercise we will go through every year. And, again, I think that's just a good healthy challenge for both sides and none of those are determined at this point, but I think we all know that we have to perform strong to maintain and grow businesses. So those will be some of the decisions we face in the future.

Q: Terry, I was wondering if you could elaborate on the decision to put Motegi as the second to last event on the schedule. I wonder if you're concerned that building momentum through the latter part of the schedule for a new season finale, barring the addition Australia, you have five weeks prior to Homestead, only one race which is Japan, which has challenges for the U.S. media and the eastern U.S. television audience to follow?

TERRY ANGSTADT: That's a great question. And it's one that we have certainly discussed at length. And we do think the back part of our schedule does allow us to add races as we develop further. At the same time, we also felt that building momentum early in this schedule, going into the Indianapolis 500, there was also a bit of a break in momentum there. So we feel like this is a better fit overall to really make that race very viable, work well. And as I said, it's not a perfect schedule yet. And we may never have the perfect schedule, but we hear that point. It's a great point and that's just one of the decisions we needed to make.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

-credit: irl

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony George
Teams HART