This weekend marks the last part of a month-long break for the IZOD IndyCar Series before it heads to Houston next weekend for the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston doubleheader. Anticipation is growing for the final “two-step” of the campaign, which marks the return of open-wheel racing to Clutch City after a six-year absence.
The Grand Prix of Houston has had a strange history; it was part of the Champ Car schedule from 1998 to 2001 (and featured a traditional downtown street course), went away for a few years, then came back for 2006 and 2007 at Reliant Park before going dark again in the wake of the merger between Champ Car and IndyCar (then, the Indy Racing League).
So will the third time prove to be the charm in making Houston a long-term staple for IndyCar? Austin Crossley, the race’s managing director, is – as you’d expect – confident despite the race’s intermittent past.
“We’ve had a couple bumps in the road – we had a race downtown for four years that had to stop because of our explosion of construction in the early 2000s and we had the race at Reliant Park for a couple of years,” Crossley said in an interview earlier this morning with Houston NBC affiliate KPRC-TV.
“The two racing series merged, we lost our date, but we’re back. We have a five-year deal with IndyCar and Reliant Park, and we have Shell as our big sponsor which is so important. We’re planning to establish this as a tradition for many years to come.”
For more on the upcoming event, check out the interview with Crossley above. Both races of the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston will air LIVE on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra, with Race 1 on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 3 p.m. ET and Race 2 on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. ET.