Mark Miles talks about the road ahead for IndyCar

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Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles may have given us an glimpse into IndyCar’s near-future yesterday at the 2013 Motorsports Marketing Forum in Las Vegas.

SportsBusiness Daily’s Josh Carpenter reports several interesting tidbits from Miles during his interview at the Forum, including the revelation of potential new international markets such as the Middle East, South Africa, India and parts of South America.

“There’s enormous opportunity,” Miles said about the subject according to Carpenter. “About a year’s time will tell if I’m right…When we started talking about it, the phones started ringing. I’m going from here to London pursuant to that. And there’s lots of interest now.

“We’ve got to have the right partners, they have to understand the economics and it has to make sense.”

Carpenter also tweeted yesterday that IndyCar’s had “three positive conversations” with potential title sponsors to replace IZOD, who chose in September to end their deal with the series at the conclusion of this past season.

Additionally, Miles said that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is “likely to try” adding an apron to the 2.5-mile oval to help boost the on-track product for its NASCAR events, including the Brickyard 400. IMS is set to receive a substantial amount of money for future upgrades, and it can be assumed that some of the money could go toward the apron project.

Where to start? Well, it’s a good thing for IndyCar that the title sponsorship has attracted at least some interest. On the other hand, you only had to scroll through the Twittersphere last night to see rampant skepticism about Miles’ plan for IndyCar global expansion.

To the observers in that boat, IndyCar’s minimal American presence beyond the Indianapolis 500 should be enough to stop Miles from having pipe dreams of international races and keep him focused on fixing things here at home. Except, apparently, it isn’t.

One figures Miles has at least read up on how the planned 2012 race in Qingdao, China crumbled and is taking extra care to find those “right partners” as he put it. If he can, it could all work out. Until then, he’ll have to deal with the naysayers.

As for the matter of re-installing the apron at IMS, that may be a good move on Miles’ part. The Speedway’s NASCAR events have suffered for various reasons over the years, but out of all of those, the most prominent is that the stock car racing simply isn’t very good there.

It may not completely solve the problem, but if an apron can provide some more instances of on-track passing, then at least we won’t feel like we’re watching a never-ending parade every summer.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

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Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.