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.