Terry Angstadt said Saturday he expects the IndyCar Series will finalize a deal this week to hold a street race next in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil as its season opener in March.
Angstadt, the IRL vice president of competition, and Tony Cotman, the vice president of competition, will visit city and commercial leaders in Salvador this week in meetings Angstadt says should lead to a signatures on contracts.
Salvador, a city of 2.9 million on the central coast of Brazil, is the birthplace of Tony Kanaan and home to a stock-car street race that drew 60,000 fans earlier this year.
“We've lots of good letters and communications back and forth,” Angstadt said. “All the basic business fundamentals are out in the open. I don't think there are any issues there. We hope to get something signed while we're there.”
Kanaan said he and other Brazilians are eager about the possibility of opening the season in their home country. “To me, it looks like it's the best site,” Kanaan said. “That's not just because I'm from there. It would be my pick. They just had a race there in the streets. I would reckon that we could have 150,000 to 200,000 people there. If that happens, it would be the biggest event IndyCar has ever had on a street course.”
Angstadt and other IRL officials met with team owners Saturday before the Peak Indy300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Among the topics discussed were the Versus TV package, which is struggling to attract viewers, and Saturday's unusually late starting time.
The decision by Versus to schedule the race at 10 p.m. ET was met with scorn by owners and drivers. Coupled with unusually cool weather, the late start time led to a meager crowd estimated at less than 20,000.
“It is what it is,” Angstadt said. “You have to cooperate. You don't usually win 100 percent of your battles. It's a time slot issue. You have to work together. It is late anyway you cut it.”
Angstadt said the league and owners also discussed the rest of the 2010 schedule, the planned 2012 introduction of new generations of chassis and engines, and a possible series sponsor.
Of particular note is a still-unsigned contract between Versus' parent company, Comcast, and DirecTV, which is threatening to pull Versus from its lineup of channels should the contract not be signed by Monday. When asked if he was confident that the situation would be resolved, Angstadt replied, “Very.”
“(Versus has) said that they would be very surprised if DirecTV would like to lose their property, and they were very open that they have no intention to lose 18 million households,” Angstadt said. “Will it be signed at 11:58 p.m. Monday? Probably.”