Open-wheel fans have, since the unification of IndyCar and Champ Car in 2008, clamored for Elkhart Lake, Wis.’s Road America to return to the schedule. Consider a Friday report from The Business Journal serving Greater Milwaukee the latest in the “will it or won’t it” actually happen category.
Senior reporter Rich Kirchen spoke to IndyCar’s vp of business affairs, Matt Breeden, in advance of next weekend’s Milwaukee IndyFest at The Milwaukee Mile. Breeden didn’t dismiss the possibility that Road America could happen for IndyCar in 2014, if the finances work out.
“They (Road America) have been complementary to Milwaukee in the past,” Breeden told Kirchen, noting that races in Milwaukee and Elkhart Lake would not be mutually exclusive. “I wouldn’t rule it out in the future.”
The sticking points in recent attempts have been both the sanctioning fee amount, and finding a suitable date given the close proximity of the two events (60 miles).
Last year, Road America, the 4-mile road course, was tossed around as a potential last-minute, 16th event replacement for the canceled IndyCar race in China, but was not added.
Road America has always said it needed to make financial sense for the track, and in an interview I conducted with track president George Bruggenthies last year, he said the sticking point was that what IndyCar was asking was too high. A year later, the principals Bruggenthies mentioned are no longer in a leadership position for IndyCar (Randy Bernard has since been ousted as series CEO), which leaves open the opportunity to negotiate.
Road America’s schedule highlights for 2013 include the NASCAR Nationwide Series (pictured) in two weeks, on June 22. Later, on August 10-11, the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and American Le Mans Series are on the same weekend but race separate races. The ALMS will be amalgamated into GRAND-AM next year, and conceivably, could leave room for another series to run on that weekend.
The last open-wheel race at Road America, Champ Car in 2007, ran on that same August weekend as ALMS.
Everything about an open-wheel reunion with Road America makes sense in theory, but only as soon as the dollars do for all parties, can the dream turn into reality.