VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES: BRING BACK THE FONTANA, CA AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY IN 2018
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Ryan Hunter-Reay’s family lives a moderate Southern California commute from Auto Club Speedway, well within the marketing reach of a world media capital. But if not for being related to the former IndyCar series champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, they wouldn’t have known the 11th race of the IndyCar season was even taking place, he said.
Although entertainment options abound in the Los Angeles area, so do potential ticket-buyers. And although billboards in the area were dominated by summer blockbusters like Terminator Genisys and Magic Mike XXL, many were available to remind a car-centric metro area of around 13 million residents that a race was being held on Saturday in the Inland Empire.
There might not be another IndyCar race to overlook next season even though International Speedway Corp. and IndyCar are interested in a return under agreeable conditions.
The minuscule crowd that attended the race on Saturday was certainly impacted by a change in date from its more traditional early- or late-season slot and a mid-day start time in the heat of the day, but it was also another symptom in a general oval malaise, said IndyCar chief executive Mark Miles.
Citing oval racing as integral to a series that exists because of the Indianapolis 500, Miles said IndyCar has taken steps to help it flourish such as being “flexible” with sanctioning fees and offering an modest “co-op fund” to help promoters market.
That said, Miles insisted that the series has “plenty of presence in California. We’re in Long Beach. That’s closer to LA than this is.”
“We’re not looking to not have (the Fontana race),” he continued. “But it has to work as an event and if it doesn’t, it’s not helping the owners of the track and it’s not helping the series. So we’re working on it. If not, we’ll find other alternatives.”
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