INDYCAR Won't Return To Las Vegas Motor Speedway In 2012

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The IZOD IndyCar Series made a disastrous return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October of 2011 and it appears that it was one and done.

During the IndyCar World Finals at LVMS, it was announced the series would hold its 2012 season closer again at the 1.5-mile banked oval. 

Then on Sunday of the race weekend, everything changed. There was a 15-car pile-up--with cars flying and on fire--and in the melee the series lost its reigning Indianapolis 500 winner and 2005 Indy and series champion Dan Wheldon. That occurrence, in which Will Power sustained injuries to his back and Pippa Mann's hand was badly hurt, caused the series to cancel its planned race and call quits to the 2011 season.

The series intended to race again at LVMS on October 14 of next year, and Speedway officials said considerable testing with the new car is needed prior to a planned return.

"We feel we need to give our technical team ample time to conduct thorough testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway once we complete our ongoing investigation into the 15-car accident during the October 16 race at the track," said Randy Bernhard, INDYCAR CEO.

The series continues its investigation into the accident and Wheldon's fatality.

Bruton Smith, who owns the Las Vegas venue in addition to the Texas Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway and Infineon Raceway Sears Point on which the Indy cars raced in 2011, told the Associated Press he wanted the series to honor a three-year agreement, but that his company, SMI would agree to a buyout for the 2012 and review the final season's date at a later time.

At this time there is no sanction agreement in place at Texas Motor Speedway, one of the most popular venues on the Indy car circuit and one which has held races for the series since 1997, frustrating track president Eddie Gossage, who was a member of the iCONIC committee that settled on Dallara as the chassis maker of choice for the 2012 season and beyond.

Smith said Gossage was frustrated by the lack of action on his date--especially this late in the year--and that all want the matter resolved.

INDYCAR still has not yet released its complete 2012 schedule. There are financial problems with the successful 2011 Baltimore Grand Prix venue and it's unsure if these difficulties will fell that contest from the schedule.

If no substitute is found for the Las Vegas race, the season would likely end in mid-September at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA, a 2-mile oval owned by International Speedway Corp. and another return venue to the series.

The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series intends to begin its 2012 season on the streets of St Petersburg, FL on March 25 with the Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg. As it has said in the past few months, the series stated its "complete schedule will be announced in the coming weeks."

© 2011 Anne Proffit

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