As soon as word got out that the IZOD IndyCar Series was reportedly once again talking with Austin, Texas’ Circuit of the Americas about a potential race next season, you knew Texas Motor Speedway president/GM Eddie Gossage would have something to say about it.
The brash promoter of the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth, Texas has always been keen on protecting the market for TMS’ annual IndyCar showcase, the Firestone 550. Already frustrated that a second IndyCar race in the Lone Star State has emerged at Houston, the thought of a third one happening in Longhorn Country has apparently bothered him further.
“Any time you put something that competes in a market, you wind up with ‘less than,'” Gossage told Mac Morrison of Autoweek on Friday. “Whether [another race] only takes one percent of your crowd, it’s still ‘less than,’ or it takes 50 percent of your crowd…Either way, it’s ‘less than.'”
Gossage believes that TMS’ longtime presence on the IndyCar calendar, as well as other measures of loyalty like kicking in money to help buy a prime-time TV spot for this year’s race there, has earned it the title of being, in his words, “IndyCar’s best friend.”
However, should IndyCar choose to go racing at COTA – the home of Formula One’s United States Grand Prix – he says that the option of not running the series at TMS anymore would be on the table.
“[The margins have] gotten close, so that’s why it would be frustrating if there was another race in our market,” said Gossage. “And Austin is just three hours away so that’s clearly in our market. You don’t even have to have a hotel room to go to our IndyCar race [if you live in Austin]. Houston is [only about] four and a half hours away.
“We know, because of the way we do things how many fans we have in the Houston area, how many fans we have in the Austin area, and it certainly had an impact on us here in June.”
Attendance for this year’s Firestone 550 at TMS was in the range of 50,000 according to Gossage – a far cry from past crowds that topped 100,000.
Watch tomorrow’s Honda Indy 200 from Mid-Ohio online and on your mobile device.