This ticket promotion idea [buyers of tickets to other 2011 IndyCar Series races will be entitled to a free ticket for Las Vegas –Ed.] – I've already gotten a lot of e‑mails from people saying that's great; how does [LCVMS owner] SMI handle this? Does IZOD help pick up the bill for all the tickets or how does that work?
“This is a sponsorship model – our business plan for this event was designed off of sponsorship models, not ticket revenue. We have about 44,000 tickets we plan on selling but the remaining tickets we plan on giving to our loyal fans. I think that it's going to be a complement of one, IZOD signed up to be our title sponsor, and it's our job to deliver them great value to the sport. I hope at the end of this year, that when Mike [Kelly] meets with his shareholders and PVH Management, he can look them in the eyes and say the IZOD IndyCar Series gave great return on their product.”
What kind of commitment have you made with Vegas for future years?
“This is a one‑off deal with Vegas. I've had a 15‑year relationship with LVCVA, and I'm a firm believer, you start with a date and it becomes a marriage, and we want to grow this just like we did the PBR. By doing a long‑term deal, I think we're leaving money on the table. I want to prove to them first that we can deliver.”
Did you put out any feelers to potential or hopeful candidates for the $5 million challenge before you put yourself out there? And, if so, please feel free to list some names.
“That's a great question and no, I didn't. I wanted to keep this so confidential.
“We have thrown a lot of ideas out there. I wanted to do some other big promotions, and this one, I wanted to keep it between IZOD and the executive management of IndyCar until now so that it could be a surprise. And I think we did a really good job of maintaining the confidentiality and now it's up any driver out there who thinks they have a chance.
Anybody who takes you up on a challenge is going to need cars and equipment and engines and a lot of other expensive things. Could you give us a ballpark on what it could cost to race the one race, and is there any thought to giving potential participants turn-key operations?
“Well, I can't talk about the costs per for car this race, because I think that would be better left to a Roger Penske or a Chip Ganassi. But what I can talk about, it will be the very last (race) of this chassis, so I think there's going to be some opportunities where those cars will be – it's their last race. So I think we can find quite a few complete cars out there for drivers.
And crews and things like that? Where do you suppose those would come from?
“Those top drivers are going to expect to have a great team, so they are going to have to talk to the Roger Penskes and the Chip Ganassis and the Michael Andrettis and on down and make sure that they feel that they have a shot of winning this race.
Who actually is the promoter of this event? Is this a track rental deal and IndyCar is the promoter, or is this an SMI/Las Vegas Speedway promotion?
“IndyCar owns this event. We were able to work a deal out with [LVMS vp and general manager] Chris Powell on a straight rental, and we wanted to do it that way. From my original background, I like being the promoter. I have control. We can take care of our sponsors in a better way and we can take care of our fans. We own all elements. It was very important for us. If I was going to try and do this, the only place I want to start it would be the city of Las Vegas, because I am so comfortable with the city and confident of its marketing ability.”
Have you heard feedback from other track promoters?
“We've heard quite a bit from a lot of tracks, but no, not on the rental. All the track promoters love the idea of giving a free ticket to the IZOD IndyCar World Championship if they purchase a ticket for their event. They are very excited to hear we are offering that to our fans. I don't think they have anything to worry about. Our goal and we've made it clear, we want to go from 17 races to 20 or 21 races. But it has to make financial sense not only for IndyCar but also our team owners and sponsors. We're not trying to take away our business. We want to have the best events in the world, period. If we have to promote them, great, but we have great promoters as well.”