Plans for the IZOD IndyCar Series to return to the Milwaukee Mile in its 2012 season are intensifying, according to multiple sources.
The event's prospective revival was originally reported by the Indianapolis Star last week, with IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard suggesting the possibility at “50-50.” Today, Wisconsin State Fair Park communications manager Patrice Harris told the Associated Press that IndyCar won't be the race promoter, but is exploring options for who would replace AB Promotions in that role in 2012.
“We're in the investigation phase, but we're hopeful we can get IndyCar here in June,” Harris said.
A source close to the situation told RACER talks between the series and the State Fair Park board are ongoing, and now rate the chances at better than the original “50-50” estimate. The source estimates the likelihood at greater, to “70 or 75” percent.
The date suggested could be either June 16 or June 17. If June 16, the Saturday, the source indicated the potential of a shortened schedule, where qualifying and the race could be held the same day.
One potential savior could be a member of the Andretti family. Though not confirmed, the source hinted that an Andretti could be en route to Milwaukee next week to meet with the Fair Park board, when one of their highest-ranking officials becomes available after a prior commitment this week.
Mario Andretti famously saved Champ Car's race date at a fellow Wisconsin track, Elkhart Lake's Road America, in 2003. Green Savoree Promotions, which branched off from the original Andretti Green Promotions, currently promotes races at St. Petersburg and Toronto and purchased the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course from the Trueman family last year.
The challenge IndyCar faces with any new promoter going into Milwaukee is recouping enough funds to make the event work from a financial standpoint. Because the state government is involved, much of the revenue that enters the race for parking and concessions goes to the state first, leaving it difficult for the promoter to gather enough in ticket sales to compensate. A new promoter would be the third in the last three races at the track.
On Friday morning, Bernard took to Twitter asking the IndyCar community whether they'd want to see the race back. Reaction was almost universally positive from drivers and teams alike.
“If you were to poll the IndyCar paddock, I'd guarantee you 90 percent of them would be in favor of going back,” said Michael Cannon, engineer at Ed Carpenter Racing. “It's definitely in my top three tracks to go to.”
“Looks like the consensus is everyone wants Milwaukee on the 2012 @indycar schedule,” added Graham Rahal on his Twitter feed. “How 'bout the fans?! Will you come 'n watch?! I promise the fans and other drivers can back this up. Milwaukee produces some of the best racing ever. Traffic, passing, cars go off big. It's just an incredible place to race. For the drivers it's so on edge. To be fast, you have to hang on and that's just an awesome feeling!”
Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy also chimed in, with Tracy commenting, “Who would like to see a four-time winner of the Milwaukee Mile running there?”