Phoenix Raceway prez: It’s up to IndyCar on possible return

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For almost a decade, Phoenix International Raceway – once one of open-wheel racing’s traditional strongholds – has not staged an IndyCar event. And, according to PIR president Bryan Sperber, the series doesn’t appear too interested in returning to the Valley of the Sun.

Sperber said that he would love to have IndyCar back at his one-mile oval, but noted this morning that “the ball is in their court” according to The Associated Press.

“Hopefully, the interest in Phoenix International Raceway becomes sufficient enough that they would like to pursue that opportunity,” he said. “But up to now, that doesn’t look like that’s in the cards.”

An increase in IndyCar oval races has been clamored for by many within the sport’s fan base, but these types of events have run into problems at the box office in recent years. IndyCar has only six ovals on its 2014 schedule: Indianapolis, Texas, Pocono, Iowa, Milwaukee, and Auto Club Speedway in Calfornia.

Sperber doesn’t want his track to take a financial bath on staging an IndyCar event, which is understandable. According to the AP report, he would have to spend close to $1 million to market such a race and cannot afford IndyCar’s current sanctioning fees with no guarantees on a decent attendance.

PIR held IndyCar/Indy Racing League races from 1996 to 2005, and both USAC and CART races from 1964 to 1995. Since 2006, NASCAR has provided the track’s major events.