Campbell, too, said Mazda Raceway is open to the possibility of a return. But the bigger issue is that Sonoma, two hours further north, is still on the calendar and the viability of two similar road course races in the same market isn't realistic at the moment.
“We're ready to embrace them when they're ready to embrace us,” she said. “For us, we'd love to have an open-wheel series back here. But at the moment, it's not strong enough, we believe, to support two appearances in Northern California. It has to rebuild itself to where the populace in this area can truly support it. And, I'm open any time IndyCar would like to be here. We've talked for several years. They have a little ways to go.”
The one double-header Road America does have, Bruggenthies says, has a clear delineation in the fan base. NASCAR's Nationwide Series has raced at Road America since 2010, with Grand-Am added as an early morning preliminary race last year.
“To be honest with you, most of the fans the Grand-Am weekend are NASCAR fans,” Bruggenthies says. “We like the Grand-Am racing, Continental Tire and Rolex Series. But we get some comments from the sports car fans and it's like, ‘Ah, you know, I'm not a NASCAR fan.' Our Nationwide racing has been very exciting and has converted a few fans to it.
“I have a feeling that Grand-Am is not going to continue during that weekend for a number of reasons, but that is not confirmed yet,” he added.
Mid-Ohio, Rust says, might need to evaluate a weekend where IndyCar and the sports car series are split depending on the level of interest in the sports car championship. Mid-Ohio's Grand-Am race was held in June this year, with IndyCar and ALMS together in August for the sixth consecutive year.
Not only was IndyCar and ALMS on the same ticket, but so too was the Pirelli World Challenge.
“From a Mid-Ohio standpoint, I want us to take a hard look at what a standalone sports car event might look like,” Rust says. “Certainly IndyCar is one of our biggest events. It's established. But I think this new series gives you the potential for more big events. We have to be open to looking at it as a standalone.”
All three are bullish on the potential of the combined series, but concerned ultimately that the technical and class structure created will truly combine the best aspects of the two to satisfy the paying customers.
“We hope all the changes are positive,” says Bruggenthies. “There's a lot of teams with cars in both series. There's a lot of drivers that run both series. That should create some economies and hopefully those economies lead to more cars, and better cars. They're a little bit dissimilar, the DP and the LMP, so we'll see if it leads to some specification. We like the GT in ALMS right now. We'd like to see a unified and better promotion of sports car racing, and create more fans, more interest, sell more tickets.”
“I think the time is right,” adds Rust. “We were, like most people, very excited when we heard the news. I think that the new series has a tremendous opportunity to really take sports car racing to new heights, a new level in North America.”
“The key thing from a series standpoint is the involvement of manufacturers. How can that be streamlined, what are they looking for?” asks Campbell. “It's not just racing on Sunday but selling on Monday – and will it sell several years down the road from research and development? We're looking forward to how the class structure will look like and how it's supported.”