2017 IndyCar race in Calgary gaining momentum

Ric Peterson and James Hinchcliffe positive about the prospect of Indy cars returning to western Canada

2017 IndyCar race in Calgary gaining momentum
Ric Peterson, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Calgary, Alberta, Canada, seen from the east looking downtown over the Calgary Stampede Grounds
Stampede Park, Calgary, potential location for 2017 IndyCar race.
Stampede Park, Calgary, potential location for 2017 IndyCar race.
Paul Tracy
James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
Stampede Park, Calgary, potential location for 2017 IndyCar race.
Stampede Park, Calgary, potential location for 2017 IndyCar race.
Stampede Park, Calgary, potential location for 2017 IndyCar race.
Stampede Park, Calgary, potential location for 2017 IndyCar race.
James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
James Hinchcliffe

An IndyCar race in Calgary in September 2017 is looking more likely, according to series team owner and local businessman Ric Peterson. Should Calgary join Toronto on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, it would mean Indy cars raced in both the largest and third-largest cities in Canada.

Peterson, co-owner of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, told Motorsport.com: “Things are coming along pretty darn good. It’s in the hands of Green-Savoree [the racing promotions company owned by former Indy car team principals Kevin Savoree and Kim Green] but they’re very good about keeping me updated. The original plan was for September 2017 and that still looks like a good possibility.”

The proposed race venue is Stampede Park, which hosts the annual Calgary Stampede, a rodeo-based festival held right in the heart of the city. That means it’s 200 miles south of Alberta’s last Indy car track at Edmonton City Centre Airport, which hosted Champ Car and then the unified IndyCar Series over eight years, 2005-’12.

“No doubt about it, Canada still has a real passion for open-wheel racing,” said Peterson, who founded Calgary-based oilfield hauling company Oculus. “The area just really supports sporting events of all kinds. For example, the Calgary Stampede attracts more than 100,000 people (a day) for more than 10 days in a row!”

The race and preparations for the race shouldn’t interfere with people’s day-to-day lives, even though it’s right in the heart of Calgary. So I don’t expect opposition from the local population

Ric Peterson

Although the proposed race would not be an Oculus-sponsored event, Peterson is confident that it would have the support of Canadian businesses and Calgary media. It would therefore face fewer of the local hurdles encountered by the organizers of next year’s inaugural Grand Prix of Boston.

Said Peterson: “Using the Stampede grounds means the race and preparations for the race shouldn’t interfere with people’s day-to-day lives, even though it’s right in the heart of Calgary. So I don’t expect opposition from the local population, nor from the media. For example, [SPM driver] James Hinchcliffe came to town last week for an Oculus customer appreciation event, and while he was here he was on four different TV stations and in two different newspapers. The enthusiasm and support for racing is clearly there.

“It would definitely be a problem if we had no Canadians in the series, but at least in James we have one and hopefully there will soon be more.”

Regarding the preferred date of a Calgary race, Peterson explained: “It’s a relatively short summer up here. The Stampede is in July and then in August a lot of people are on holiday. But by September, everyone has come back to town.”

Hinchcliffe: “Calgary is the logical choice”

James Hinchcliffe, who has played a central role in the attempts to land a second Canadian race on the IndyCar schedule, told Motorsport.com he’s pleased with local response in Calgary.

“Right from when we started looking at a Calgary event, the people we’ve spoken to in prominent positions and the conversations we’ve had have all been positive,” said the four-time IndyCar race winner. “Certainly I’d say there have been surprisingly few roadblocks up to this point.

“That said, no-one’s had to write a check yet! But I think we’ve communicated with the right people on the city side, and everyone on the racing side is eager to be there. So I’d say the signs are that this will happen in the not-too-distant future.”

The market is there and the Canadian race fans are super-cool, super-enthusiastic

James Hinchcliffe

The popular Toronto-born ace said: “I’m an east coast boy, sure, but above all I’m a Canadian, and so the more races we have north of the border, the better. I know how popular Vancouver was before we lost that in 2004, and Edmonton was really strong for a couple of years. The market is there and the Canadian race fans are super-cool, super-enthusiastic. Ideally I’d like three races in Canada. But before we get to three, we need to get back up to two.”

As well as Vancouver, Edmonton and the long-established street race in Toronto, Canadian fans saw CART Indy cars race at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve 2002-’06, and then at Mont-Tremblant in 2007. Ever since, there been rumors of a street race in Quebec City, and speculation as to why Indy cars don’t race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, better known as Mosport.

However, Hinchcliffe said: “After Vancouver’s demise, Calgary was the next logical choice. It’s the financial hub of western Canada and it had already been discussed as a potential venue. But then with it being the home event for Ric [Peterson] and Oculus, that really got the momentum going and he’s been super-motivated to make it happen.

“He found the right people to talk to, and so I think there are now a lot of decision-makers who can see a Calgary race will make a lot of sense.”

Motorsport.com previously reported that a Calgary IndyCar race was being considered back in February

shares
comments
Pippa Mann sets sights on 100th Indy 500

Previous article

Pippa Mann sets sights on 100th Indy 500

Next article

Mikhail Aleshin set for return to Schmidt Peterson

Mikhail Aleshin set for return to Schmidt Peterson
Load comments
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021
IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet Prime

IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet

The ace 20-somethings in IndyCar have risen to become title contenders, but the best of the series veterans are digging deep and responding – and will continue to do so over the next couple of years, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Aug 20, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021