What were the goals of the 2011 schedule while you were building it with various series partners, and how does this schedule meet those objectives? RANDY BERNARD:
The first thing we needed to do is to make sure we defined IndyCar first. And I think that we need to make sure that when we define IndyCar, it's truly what we are, and that is the most versatile, fastest racecar and racecar drivers in the world; and just separates us from F1 and separates us from NASCAR, and it's truly what IndyCar is.
And, in doing that, we need to make sure that we keep the versatility from the different types of tracks that we race, and that includes having superspeedways with short ovals as well as road courses and street courses. And I think that when we set the 2011 schedule up this year, the one thing we wanted to make sure that we were doing is making sure that there was versatility through and through that series. There's been a lot of talk that the finale could be in Las Vegas and curious if you could update us on the status of that, and if you have a deadline for securing financial backing for a possible Vegas event.
I think Vegas is one of the greatest cities in the world. I don't think there's a better city in the world to culminate your championships than in Vegas. I have tremendous relationships there with the LVTVA, as well as with the tremendous amount of hotels and casinos. So right now we are doing our due diligence and hoping that we can come to an agreement here very shortly on that event.
But we also have...Fontana is very interested if we cannot get that [Las Vegas] done. So that's one of the key reasons we have not made the decision at this point yet, but I'm optimistic that we'll see some type of decision made within the next two weeks.
Normally, a series like this would have some adjustments to the schedule, but you walked into a situation with really a major overall. Do you feel like this is kind of a relief, given all that you've had to go through? Was it a pretty daunting challenge? Maybe not as big as the CART challenge, but a pretty good size? RANDY BERNARD:
I think the relief will come next year if we sell out and have big-time attendance at these races. I think the work just begins. Now that we have announced the schedule, we have to make sure that we follow through and work on marketing strategies that allow us to have great crowds, and I think that's one of our biggest concerns; our objective is what we need to really work on, and that is making sure that we grow in our sport. Can you give a sense of how many of these events you had to be a promoter or take a more active role in? RANDY BERNARD:
Of the 16 that we have announced, we will be helping with Milwaukee the most, I would say.
We have 100 percent confidence in all of Bruton Smith's tracks. I think Bruton has told us time and time again that he really, really likes open-wheel racing and IndyCar, and he wants to see it grow. So I think that those are the type of partners that we want to make sure that we are working with, because they are not only saying it; they are doing it.
One thing strikes me about the schedule is that there's pretty good pacing and separation between events; can you speak to that as well as specifically to the extra week between Toronto and Edmonton to recover from the carnage that quite often happens at that Toronto race and to get across the country?RANDY BERNARD:
I have to give 100 percent of that credit to Sarah Davis, who has helped orchestrate the schedule, and I think that she has done a really good job of working with these promoters and making sure that there is time in between some of these events.
And the other one, the big one was between the Indianapolis 500 and Texas. Same thing; we felt that after the Indianapolis 500, the team owners needed a little bit more time probably to work on their cars and get their teams together. So that was the reason we took that week off there, as well.
It looks like there's a pretty specific break between IndyCar and International Speedway Corp. – the four tracks you are dropping are ISC. I'm wondering if that's because you couldn't cut a deal with them or because SMI made you an offer you couldn't refuse. And also wondering if Homestead was more of a victim in that it's an ISC track or that you don't want to come anymore?
RANDY BERNARD: No, no, I don't want to get shot when I go down there, that's for sure. But I think that we never want to close doors with any of our promoters, especially ISC.
ISC has promoted 66 races in their history with us, and I think that's very important to know. But I also think it's very important that we have to make sure that we are trying to move IndyCar to the next level, the IZOD IndyCar Series, and one of our goals has to be, for next year, let's get 24 different promoters interested in the series, and let's make sure we pick the top 17, 18, 19 events. And I think that's very important for us to do.
Bruton has never mentioned ISC to me. So, unfortunately, ISC was a victim this year; the scheduling was a major issue, sanction agreement and fees were another, and I think third would be marketing. Those would be the key factors most likely as to why we are not going back to any of those four tracks.
Would you like to come back to Homestead at some point if you had the opportunity?
RANDY BERNARD: You never rule out any track. I think we want to race at tracks where we can have significant amount of press in the market, as well as great crowds. And if there was a way that we could see it, planning to take it to that level, definitely we would return to Homestead.
[ISC president] John Saunders and I had a great conversation in Chicago. I have spoken with Lesa [France Kennedy] several times, and we are not burning bridges. We want to keep a great relationship there, but we also, we believe that we have a great set of promoters and a great set of tracks on our 2011 series.