Indy set for upgrades with legislation approval

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A bill that would help fund improvements to the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been approved by the Indiana General Assembly and is now heading for the desk of Gov. Mike Pence.

House Bill 1544, which has passed through the Indiana House and Senate, calls for the creation of an Indiana Motorsports Investment District that will capture sales and income taxes at the commercial property that includes IMS, which will then go toward future investment in the Speedway.

According to the legislation, the track will receive a loan from the state of Indiana for up to $5 million per year for 20 years to complete upgrade projects, and the loan will be repaid through expected increases in income and sales tax collections at IMS — which will kick in $2 million a year over 20 years ($40 million total) themselves toward the improvements.

“We appreciate the hard work done by state lawmakers to ensure Indiana remains the worldwide leader in motorsports,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president/CEO Jeff Belskus said in a statement. “This legislation will allow us to make transformative improvements to our 104-year-old facility over the next several years that will greatly enhance the fan experience.”

In addition, the bill also creates a special fund for motorsports-based businesses in Indiana to apply for loans that can help them improve their own facilities. The state will provide up to an additional $5 million annually to the fund, which will be run by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

The legislation was introduced into the Indiana General Assembly in February. A Feb. 8 press release from IMS stated potential projects that could occur thanks to the legislation, such as the installation of lights, adding high-definition video boards, and seating and restroom upgrades.

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”