The race fans of the upper Midwest are very fanatical about their motorsports. The weather is one of the reason in part because it makes the race season so short. With winter such a long period in these parts, the folks need and want to get out and see the action on the track.
The Milwaukee Mile recently concluded their IndyCar event with Michael Andretti’s marketing company handling the promotion of the race (source: Yahoo! Sports). Now there’s been talk again that the big beautiful four-mile road course on the rolling hills of Road America in Elkhart Lake may be added to IndyCar’s 2014 schedule. Could both events exist during the same year?
Back to historic Road America?
American open wheel has been running at Milwaukee since the very beginning of motorsports, about a century ago. Racing has existed at Road America since the 1950s with CART and then ChampCar having events there from 1982 until the IndyCar merger. Since that race ended with the 2007 event, race fans have clamored for IndyCar to come back to Road America. Now the outlook for another race in Wisconsin is in serious discussions according to Robin Miller of Speed. He talked with Road America president George Bruggenthies who said:
“I’ve reached out to IndyCar and had a meeting with Mark Miles back in April at Long Beach and we’d like to bring Indy cars back.”
Conversely, there may be an obstacle or two in the way of having two races in Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Mile is not a given for 2014. Sure, this year’s event was an improvement over 2012 but it doesn’t appear a return to the Mile is a sure thing. The race facility is part of the Wisconsin State Fair Park and its executive director Rick Frenette appears to be fine with the outcome saying, “On our end, it went very well. Attendance definitely improved over last year.” (Source: Business Journal)
Issues with Milwaukee
However, lacking sponsorship, Andretti and IndyCar have not given their okay on a return in 2014. Last year, Andretti was more than happy and said emphatically right after the Milwaukee race concluded that the series would be back in 2013. That is not his reaction this season.
Part of the issues involved in coming back also have to do with acquiring marketing partners and that may become harder if other Midwest locations such as Chicagoland get an IndyCar race on the schedule. Competition for sponsorship funds is tough during this Great Recession and without it, television and attendance dollars have to make up the difference. Scheduling a race at Road America may become difficult what with trying not to be too close to the Milwaukee or Nationwide race but not too late in the year that weather is a concern. Having NASCAR’s Nationwide series holding a race at Road America since 2010 hasn’t helped. The Nationwide cars visit the huge track this upcoming weekend.
Whether Andretti wants to continue his contract with Milwaukee will have a bearing on whether IndyCar comes back to the Mile. Scheduling could be a concern with Road America but if they can find a slot late in the season, it’s possible the series may find itself with two visits to the scenic plains of eastern Wisconsin. Is it possible that neither race will occur or that both will happen in 2014? Wisconsin and IndyCar fans will have to wait for the answer.
Additional source: IndyCar