UPDATED: IndyCar targeting return to Brazil for 2015 season


The INDYCAR sanctioning body has announced that it’s exploring a return of the Verizon IndyCar Series to Brazil for the 2015 championship. However, it’s not Sao Paulo that the series is looking at in regards to which city will host the event.

Instead, the series has revealed that they’re talking with event organizers in the South American country’s capital of Brasilia, which is home to more than 2.7 million people and will serve as one of the host cities for this summer’s FIFA World Cup.

The series raced from 2010-2013 in Sao Paulo, and enjoyed a strong local following there with Brazilian drivers such as Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan as the main attraction.

“Brazil has a real history in Indy car racing and we would like to re-establish a championship race there as early as 2015,” Hulman & Co. CEO  Mark Miles said in a statement. “We are engaged in on-going discussions toward this goal and hope suitable arrangements can be finalized soon.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are encouraged by the efforts from The Government of the Federal District – GDF and the Governor of Brasilia, Agnelo Queiroz, as well as the TV Bandeirantes Group.”

However, the Associated Press is reporting that “a deal with local race promoters was signed at an event in Sao Paulo” and that the GDF has said in a statement that there will be a race held from 2015-2019 at the Autodromo Nelson Piquet in Brasilia, a 3.4-mile road course.

That track is not to be confused with the former Autodromo Nelson Piquet in Rio de Janeiro, which hosted Formula One’s Brazilian Grand Prix in the 1980s and the Champ Cars from 1996-2000 on an accessory oval.

The AP also passes along a statement from Castroneves:

“I’m very happy to find out that our return to the calendar is secured. It will be great to race in Brasilia and I can’t wait for that to happen. Several challenges kept Brazil from hosting the race in 2014, but that’s life. Sometimes we need a step backward to come back stronger.”

When the sanctioning body released this year’s Verizon IndyCar Series schedule back in October of last year, Miles had left the door open for the Sao Paulo race’s return.

However, in December, the series sued Bandeirantes – reportedly for a sanctioning fee of just under $10 million – arguing that the promoter was contractually obligated to find another race venue when planned road work around the Sao Paulo street circuit caused Bandeirantes officials to tell INDYCAR that they couldn’t hold the event.

With that said, INDYCAR has continued to show the desire to return to Brazil, which has proven to be a solid market for the series. Considering that Bandeirantes appears in on this new race for Brasilia, perhaps the two sides have settled their differences in some form or another.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.