Randy Bernard needs to firmly take the reins at INDYCAR. Photo: Anne ProffitEnlarge Photo
After announcing on June 13 that the intended inaugural race at Qingdao, China was cancelled for at least this year, the IZOD IndyCar Series surveyed its options to replace the race and conduct a full, 16-contest season as required by its contracts with various partners, including naming entity IZOD.
Many suggestions were made, including a second trip to Texas Motor Speedway following an extremely successful event at that 1.5-mile oval, returns to Kentucky Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and a trip back to one of the top road-racing circuits in the United States, the 4.048-mile Road America road corse at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. There was even talk about a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, site of the intended 2011 finale.
The problem wasn't interest, it was all about time needed to promote and activate any event that would occur before the end of the season. There were questions about the amount of a sanction fee. Meetings were held, discussions ensued with a variety of track promoters and potential race sponsors before the series decided to leave the docket at the current 15 events.
"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," Randy Bernard, INDYCAR CEO explained. "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," Bernard revealed. "I thank all of the promoters who entertained the possibility of hosting the IZOD IndyCar Series this season. It certainly validated what we already knew - there's a lot of interest from venues across North America in hosting our sport."
Bernard made this decision with the backing of IZOD, a heritage brand of the PVH Corporation portfolio, which supported the decision to cap the 2012 schedule at 15 events: "As the entitlement partner of the series," Mike Kelly, PVH Marketing Group executive vice president said, "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."
As intended, the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season finale takes place on Saturday, September 15 on the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval at Fontana, Calif. Series officials announced today that the race will be lengthened from its originally scheduled 400 miles to a full 500-mile contest. The winner of Auto Club Speedway's most recent 500-mile Indy car race is Jimmy Vasser, who took the checkered flags at the track in 2002; he is currently co-owner of KV Racing Technology, which fields Chevy-powered cars for Tony Kanaan, EJ Viso and newcomer Rubens Barrichello.
"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," Bernard pronounced. "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."