IndyCar won't be going to Japan in 2012, but it is adding an Asian replacement with the confirmation it will make its first trip to China. The latest piece of the still yet-to-be-released full 2012 calendar comes with a new round in the streets of Qingdao.
The inaugural event will run Aug. 19 on a 3.87-mile street circuit in Qingdao, a Yellow Sea coastal city of 8.7 million between Beijing and Shanghai that played host to the 2008 Summer Olympics Sailing competition.
“As the world global economy continues to grow and evolve, China, the world's second-largest economy, has become a top priority with most American businesses and the sponsors that are committed to IndyCar,” said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. “Last year, at our sponsorship summit, China was the No. 1 place our sponsors wanted to go outside of the United States.
“We are very excited and truly grateful for the full support of the Chinese Government, Qingdao City Government and related Government Bureaus in providing the opportunity to bring the IZOD IndyCar Series to China. We are committed to doing our part in making this a fantastic race event weekend to be seen on the world stage.”
It will coincide with the Qingdao International Beer Festival, and Bernard said at Infineon Raceway in August that the likelihood of this race was strong – Chinese beer Tsingtao is brewed there. While the track is a temporary circuit, the region does look forward to putting together a “long-term” permanent racing and entertainment venue.
The race will have Chinese government support and major sponsorship, said IndyCar commercial division president Terry Angstadt.
“The China automotive industry is experiencing explosive growth and it is just smart to begin establishing our brand and business roots in the China marketplace,” he said. “Over the last three years – with full support of the Chinese Government, Qingdao City Government and related Government Bureaus – U.S.-based IndyCar representative ARD, China race promoter Yinxin Investment, as well as major sponsor Qingdao City Construction Investment Group have worked with our team in the realization of this historic race event.”
The date clashes with the American Le Mans Series' round at Road America, which runs Aug. 18. Discussions then, to feature a doubleheader round of both series at the 4.048-mile road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis., were for naught.
Formula 1 has raced since 2004 at the Shanghai International Circuit, while Australia's V8 Supercars had a crack at Shanghai in 2005. Two FIA GT1 World Championship rounds have occurred in September of this year, and this weekend the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup draws to a close of its 2011 season at the Zhuhai International Circuit.