Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage wants an early Christmas present: a new agreement that keeps the Verizon IndyCar Series racing at the 1.5-mile Fort Worth track for many more years to come.
This past Saturday night’s race marked the end of the most recent agreement between the racing series and TMS, which has hosted IndyCar for the last 22 years (since 1997).
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, both IndyCar and TMS officials are expected to begin negotiations on a new multi-year agreement in the next month or so.
Gossage hopes to get his early Christmas present signed, sealed and delivered by the end of August, when the track traditionally begins selling tickets for the following year’s race.
“I would certainly hope we could reach a business deal,” Gossage told the S-T. “They’ve been here for 22 years, so I don’t know why that’s going to change.”
IndyCar has been on an upswing in terms of popularity and attention over the last few years, something that’s not lost on Gossage. There’s no question he wants the open-wheel series to keep returning to TMS year after year.
But Gossage would like to see one significant change in a new agreement, to return the annual race to its former place on the IndyCar schedule: the week after the Indianapolis 500.
It had been that way from 1997 through 2005, before the former IndyCar administration chose to insert another venue into the schedule the weekend after the 500.
In 2006, Watkins Glen followed the 500, while Texas was next.
The Milwaukee Mile followed the 500 from 2007 through 2009.
TMS returned to its former spot on the IndyCar schedule the weekend after the Indy 500 in 2010 and 2011, before the temporary road course at Belle Isle in downtown Detroit, Michigan, took over that spot and has continued in that slot ever since.
Although IndyCar officials are still working on race slots for the 2019 schedule, Gossage told the Star-Telegram he had a gentleman’s agreement with a prior IndyCar administration that TMS would always be the first race after the Indy 500.
“Hopefully that’ll happen again,” Gossage told the S-T. “This race should be the race after Indy. If you’re trying to capture fans who enjoy the Indy 500 and want to watch the next race, do you want them to see Detroit’s temporary street course?
“Or do you want them to see racing on one of the grand ovals for IndyCar? I would certainly fix that. It’d be good for IndyCar; it’d be good for Texas Motor Speedway.”
IndyCar has been a welcome guest to TMS, not to mention being one of the more popular races on the series’ schedule. That included two races per year at TMS from 1998 through 2004, as well as in the 2011 season, for a total of 30 visits by the series over the years.
While returning a second race to the schedule doesn’t seem to be in the cards, at least for the near future, if TMS can get IndyCar to return its race date to the weekend after the Indy 500, Gossage would be a happy man.
Scott Dixon, who won Saturday night’s race, says racing at TMS is one of his favorite – not to mention successful (three wins, 8 podium finishes in 19 starts) – venues.
“It’s always been a special place,” Dixon told the Star-Telegram. “I think Eddie and his whole team just do a fantastic job. I love coming here.”