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So why does Bruton Smith figure he can make money on 2011 Indy-car events, when the ISC says no?

 Chicagoland Speedway boss Craig Rust (L) and Kyle Busch (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



   By Mike Mulhern

   The Indy-car tour won't be running at Chicagoland Speedway in 2011, another piece of a strange puzzle that seems to be part of a bigger picture by the France family's International Speedway Corp. (ISC) to distance itself from the open-wheel half of U.S. racing.
   While Bruton Smith, NASCAR's other major promoter, will continue running Indy-car events, and is bargaining for the season finale to be run at his Las Vegas Motor Speedway next season, the ISC will apparently have no Indy-car races at any of its tracks in 2011.
   One key issue appears to be, not surprisingly, economics. The Indy-car tour charges about $1.5 million to promoters to put on a weekend show, while NASCAR's typical price tag for a Nationwide show is about $800,000. The two shows draw about the same size crowds, and Nationwide typically does better in TV ratings.
   Craig Rust, who runs Chicagoland Speedway for the ISC, issued a brief statement Friday: "With the many changes made to our 2011 schedule, we were unable to come to terms with the Indy-car series for an event at our facility next season.  We've had some positive discussions with the league throughout the past couple of weeks regarding the return of the Indy-car series to Chicagoland Speedway in the future and will continue to keep an open dialogue with them as we move forward."
   The ISC, in the facing of sluggish revenues, has initiated a major cost-cutting campaign, which includes the elimination a number of high-ranking jobs.
   Randy Bernard, the new Indy Racing League boss, said Thursday ISC's Homestead-Miami Speedway, which has hosted the tour's championship finale the past two seasons, will not have an Indy-car race next season.
  Watkins Glen Michael P. Printup's has also just announced no Indy-car racing at his ISC track next season:
  "The decision has been made for the Indy-car Series to not return to Watkins Glen International in 2011. This is a joint business decision between WGI and the Indy Racing League.
   "I cannot speak for the series but can say that when evaluating events that we host at Watkins Glen International, there are a variety of factors that must be considered.  Factors contributing to these decisions include the cost of competition, operational expense, paid attendance, both sponsor and market support, and future growth potential.
  "We know our track has experienced enthusiastic reviews by the competitors, drivers and fans of the Indy-car Series for the past six years. We continue to enjoy a good relationship with the Indy Racing League and will keep our door open for future discussions with the series that may make sense for both businesses beyond 2011."
    And add ISC's Kansas Speedway to the list rejecting Indy-car negotiations: "With the current economic environment, we had to reevaluate all of our events and are turning our attention to those that make the most financial sense," Kansas Speedway president Pat Warren says. "I wish the IZOD Indy-car series all the best, and we'll continue to have discussions with the series about returning to Kansas Speedway in the future."

    The 2011 Indy-car series schedule
         (official September 10-2010)

March 27          St Petersburg, FL
April 10            Barber Motorsports Park (AL)
April  17           Long Beach                   
May 1               Sao Paulo, Brazil
May 29             Indianapolis 500             
June 11            Texas Motor Speedway  (SMI)
June 19            Milwaukee
June 25            Iowa Speedway               
July 10            Toronto, Canada       
July 24             Edmonton, Canada 
August 7          Mid-Ohio 
August 14        New Hampshire Motor Speedway (SMI)
August 28        Infineon Raceway (Sonoma) (SMI)
September 4     Baltimore                 
September  18  Twin Ring Motegi (Japan)
October 2          Kentucky Speedway   (SMI)        
Finale  TBA      TBA

(SMI: Bruton Smith's Speedway Motorsports)


  No Indy-car action at the Glen in 2011 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Brian France (ISC) had a

Brian France (ISC) had a falling out with the new President of Indy Car. He doesn't like NASCAR / Indy combo events. Hope Bruton can make a go of it.

can you go a bit further on

can you go a bit further on this?

I think it boils down to ISC

I think it boils down to ISC being in dire financial straits presently. Their stock was at a 52 week low recently, mass layoffs occurring among their staff. Bruton seems better positioned financially to go with Indy Car events. It may pay off for him in the long run in loyalty points.

So if an ISC track holds a NASCAR race, they supposedly pay NASCAR a sanction fee? That's like money exchanging hands between a husband and wife in the same house.

I doubt it. SMI hasn't been

I doubt it. SMI hasn't been all that good at making money lately, either, and Indycar racing has declined in competitive value since 2003. Bruton is a guy who acts impulsively and this looks like one of his "I can make this work" illusions.

well, maybe indy-cars don't

well, maybe indy-cars don't sell quite as well as nascar cup races....but then nationwide races as stand-alones dont do all that well either. there are too many questions here without good answers.

Mike, you have it backwards.

Mike, you have it backwards. Randy Bernard is cutting off ISC because they did not promote Indy Car events properly. Bruton has promised to promote the Indy car events with the same vigor as his Sprint Cup events so Bernard chose to work more with SMI and less with ISC.

Okay, i'll buy that smi

Okay, i'll buy that smi promotes better, generally, than isc, and that -- from what randy himself told us at loudon in june -- is key to his gameplan for indy-cars. still, what's wrong with the isc: they've got tracks, and tracks are money-eating machines that need big events to keep going....and i find it odd that all those isc tracks are suddenly dissing indy-cars, almost in unison. i always figured that these tracks needed a healthy indy-car series in order to keep things rolling for their own bottom line. i'm still a bit skeptical about this whole thing.....

Hey, it's time to start

Hey, it's time to start thinking about what the FANS want. Time to stop quibbling over who has the biggest empire and put some races out there that we want to see. I find it very hard to believe that, given their ability to promote, these knuckleheads can't put on a good show week after week. They have all the tools and all of the talent (at least on the track) to do a fantastic job. so, why don't they get off their high horse and put on some REALLY good races? I am fed up with the whole bunch. I'm going to start going to golf tournaments, at least I can enjoy the talent.

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