Getty Images

What replacement venues could work for Boston?


With the Grand Prix of Boston not happening, there’s a lot of replacement options that have been discussed.

Right now it appears there’s more talk about potential replacement options than there are movement on actual ones, although you figure if a replacement event gets finalized, it would need to get finalized sooner rather than later to allow for a somewhat ample amount of promotional time and to slot into whatever TV window.

It’d be easier to go through the possible tracks one-by-one as based on reports:

  • Providence: A Rhode Island street race has been rumored for years, even going back to when Tony Cotman discussed the idea back in 2012 (I remember writing on it for another outlet at the time). The realism of a second first-year street race coming together in an even shorter time frame, given all the permits needed, seems unlikely. And while the Boston Herald reported the Boston race could be in line to move to Providence, the Providence Journal reported Tuesday that the Providence mayor hasn’t been in touch with INDYCAR.
  • Fontana/Auto Club Speedway: Auto Club Speedway president Dave Allen likes INDYCAR but wanted a more amenable time and date for his race rather than the Saturday, mid-afternoon race in June last year, and so ACS was an unfortunate casualty for 2016. Could it return? Veteran Inland Valley Dailey Bulletin reporter Louis Brewster pondered the possibility thusly: “It’s good bet, under the right agreement, the Fontana track could host such a race and attract a decent crowd. Of course the series will point to the June 2015 race that didn’t attract much more than 20,000 fans. However, that was the direct result of IndyCar not wanting to compete after Labor Day and moving the race for the fourth time in four years. IndyCar should give serious consideration to ending its season in Fontana.” Ah, but ending its season in Fontana would likely go against the wishes and desires of the other California track that is promoting and likely has in its contract the rights to the 2016 season finale: Sonoma Raceway up the coast. Theoretically Fontana could work on the Labor Day weekend; it hosted NASCAR races that weekend from 2004 to 2008 and has an open gap in its schedule; the track has events scheduled August 26-28 and Sept. 10-11, per its website.
  • Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca: Don’t bet on this happening. The full complement of Mazda Road to Indy series and Mazda Prototype Lites are at the track Sept. 8-11 for a singular Mazda branded weekend at Mazda Raceway in Monterey, and there’s little to no chance that Sonoma or INDYCAR would be cool with two races in the same market on back-to-back weeks. Same story applies with Pirelli World Challenge, a usual INDYCAR dance partner, running here separately Oct. 7-9. Sonoma’s got the INDYCAR finale and if there’s one thing that won’t be changing, it’s that.
  • Gateway: Here’s one that could make sense. One of a handful of tracks identified in Robin Miller’s “what next” report late Friday night for, Gateway Motorsports Park is known to have an interest in returning and has had Ed Carpenter test at the track for evaluation. Gateway hosted seven total open-wheel races from 1997 through 2003.
  • Milwaukee: Like Gateway in Madison, Ill., Milwaukee could be a cost-effective, quick short-term solution for teams to fill in and replace the Boston round. The problem, however, is finding a suitable promoter. With Andretti Sports Marketing having gone away, the remnants now fused into the new LST Marketing organization (separate from Andretti), and the eternal dilemma in Milwaukee where you also have to factor the State Fair Park board into play, it’d be hard to find a shotgun promoter last-minute without INDYCAR doing it itself. The difference between Phoenix and Milwaukee in terms of promoting a one-mile race is INDYCAR was able to co-promote Phoenix with the track, a track which hosts other successful events during a year. Milwaukee, with no other major events, stands alone. The last time a first-year promoter did Milwaukee, the AB Promotions mash-up of Avocado, LLC and BMG Event Productions in 2011, it didn’t go well.
  • Watkins Glen: An SVRA weekend at the track runs Sept. 9-11, the weekend after Labor Day. With the Phoenix connection, another ISC track, re-established on an IndyCar schedule you wonder if Jay Frye and company could work some magic to put another ISC track on the venue. The track’s just been repaved though, so any race here might require an exploratory test. IndyCar last raced “the Glen” in 2010.
  • New Hampshire: Miller rules this one out because of NASCAR races there on July 17 and Sept. 25, and with Labor Day so close to the Sept. 25 date (week two in the Chase), having two races in four weeks isn’t a likely option.
  • No replacement or A.N. Other replacement: The least favorable of the options: either no replacement or another one that hasn’t already been publicly discussed. Big question here is whether 16 races is the magic number for INDYCAR to fulfill its contractual requirements or if 15 is the standby option. In 2012, when IZOD was the title sponsor, the series ran 15 races following the cancellation of the China round. Last year’s Brasilia cancellation dropped the number from 17 to 16. Now with Verizon as series title sponsor, it will be interesting to see whether it prefers to have a Northeast presence and/or if it stipulates that 16 races are required, or if 15 can work.

Where would you like to see IndyCar race to replace Boston? Check the poll below:

Report: Auto Club Speedway president on no IndyCar in 2016: “It’s quite a shame”


Late last week it was confirmed that the Verizon IndyCar Series would not be returning to Auto Club Speedway in 2016.

The news came not even two months following this year’s race, which was one of the most spell-binding in IndyCar history, won by Graham Rahal.

INDYCAR released a statement last Friday, noting that while it reached out to the track to run later in the year as it had in 2012 and 2013, it was unable to reach a window that would not adversely impact East Coast television viewership.  A portion of that statement reads:

“INDYCAR explored several options to retain the event as part of its 2016 calendar, including plans to race later in the season to comply with the track’s request to host the season finale. Ultimately the two sides were unable to identify a start time and broadcast window that would not adversely impact television viewership on the East Coast.”

Auto Club Speedway track president Dave Allen expanded with a statement of his own released this weekend. It reads:

“As an open wheel fan who watched one of the best races I’ve ever seen, it is with deep regret we were unable to come to terms with INDYCAR for the 2016 MAVTV 500. We worked hard to land on a date that made sense for Auto Club Speedway, our sponsors, our fans and the sanctioning body. We hope to revisit schedule opportunities with INDYCAR in the future. In the meantime, we are committed to exploring options to add to our existing year round schedule.”

Allen opened up further in an interview with the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, speaking to veteran Southern California reporter Louis Brewster.

“It’s quite a shame. We don’t like it at all,” Allen told Brewster. “Personally, I love open-wheel racing and thought we had some of the best races. It was great for the sport, for our fans and our track.

“It was strictly a business decision. We had to do what we thought best for our fans and for us. Hopefully, open-wheel racing will return in the future.”

Allen told Brewster that INDYCAR offered the track three post-Labor Day dates, which would have put a potential ACS event in Fontana after the Sept. 2-4 weekend slated for Boston.

Sources also told Brewster the race was a financial loser, with an estimated financial loss of $500,000 for the year.

But none worked for the track’s bottom line; Allen said there were conditions which didn’t work for the track, and he felt the track should have been treated better by INDYCAR.

Allen took over as track president last winter, replacing Gillian Zucker, who’d also worked hard to bring the series back to the track after a seven-year hiatus from 2005 to 2012.

Auto Club Speedway out for IndyCar in 2016


Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. hosted arguably one of the most exciting races in recent IndyCar memory on Saturday, June 27.

It won’t have an encore for 2016.

A track spokesperson has confirmed it won’t be on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, unable to find a suitable date and time that works for its schedule.

INDYCAR has also confirmed the news via a statement released:

INDYCAR explored several options to retain the event as part of its 2016 calendar, including plans to race later in the season to comply with the track’s request to host the season finale. Ultimately the two sides were unable to identify a start time and broadcast window that would not adversely impact television viewership on the East Coast.

“There was a tremendous amount of effort put forth to keep Auto Club Speedway on the calendar. In the end, we could not identify a compromise for 2016 that was amicable for both parties,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We’re thankful to (Auto Club Speedway President) Dave Allen for his efforts in these negotiations. We mutually agreed that our inability to identify a date for next year doesn’t preclude us revisiting these conversations in the future.”

It’s a shame as Auto Club Speedway hosted some of the most exciting races in IndyCar since its return in 2012, but has also been subject to four date changes in four years.

In 2012, the race was in mid-September, then moved to mid-October for 2013, end of August for 2014 and then end of June for this year.

Auto Club had been rumored as a possible season-ender for 2016, after Boston’s race on Labor Day weekend, but that is now not the case.

It remains to be seen whether ACS – a staple of open-wheel calendars from 1997 to 2005 and from 2012 to 2015 – will have a third life with IndyCar.

The news comes as Phoenix International Raceway is closing on a possible April return, incidentally, for the first time since 2005.

WATCH: IndyCar’s frantic, thrilling MAVTV 500 to re-air at midnight ET on NBCSN


One of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ most incredible races, Saturday’s MAVTV 500 from Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., will re-air tonight at midnight ET on NBCSN (11 p.m. CT, 9 p.m. PT).

In case you can’t wait that long to watch it on TV, we’ve included a full race replay below via NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Sports’ live streaming application.

WATCH: IndyCar Full Race Replay

Saturday’s race had everything… lead changes, surprise winners, cautions, crashes and drama.

The full race recap on MotorSportsTalk is linked here, and there is plenty of post-race news and analysis elsewhere on the site.

But again, that’s tonight at midnight ET for the MAVTV 500 replay.

WATCH LIVE: MAVTV 500 at Fontana, 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Live Extra

1 Comment

One of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ toughest tests lies ahead, with today’s 11th round of the 2015 season, the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Today’s race airs live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra from 4 p.m. ET; here is the Live Extra link for participating cable providers.

What had been the season finale for the last three seasons now shifts to a late June Saturday afternoon, set to be under 90-plus degree ambient temperatures for the 250-lap race, and expected to be six pit stops.

Can points leader Juan Pablo Montoya add to his Indianapolis 500 victory and win the second Triple Crown race of the year? Will Scott Dixon wrest it away? Or might a surprise driver survive and take the triumph?

Leigh Diffey will be in the booth along with Steve Matchett and Paul Tracy; Kevin Lee, Jon Beekhuis, Kelli Stavast and Robin Miller will be patrolling what is likely to be a hot, stifling pit road.

Again, that’s 4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. PT, for IndyCar coverage from ACS in Fontana.