The Glen dropped from 2011 IndyCar schedule Print
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Thursday, 09 September 2010 09:53
NASCAR Headline News

 WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) - The IndyCar Series has ended its six-year run at Watkins Glen International, dropping the race from the 2011 schedule.
``We just finished it up. We've been working with them for a long time, but we've moved down the road,'' WGI president Michael Printup said Thursday. ``They're trying to juggle a schedule, we're trying to juggle our schedule, and it was just a matter of trying to put it all together.
``I don't think it was any one thing in particular, it was everything combined,'' Printup said. ``Unfortunately, we couldn't make it all mesh.''
The IndyCar Series also dropped Homestead-Miami Speedway from the 2011 schedule, which will be released Friday.
``IndyCar is entering a new exciting era,'' IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said in an email to The Associated Press. ``Fortunately, this brings opportunities with new venues and promoters that are fully aligned with our strategy moving forward. We have chosen to move away from a few venues at this time.''
Printup said that when evaluating events there are a variety of factors that must be considered, including cost of competition, paid attendance, both sponsor and market support, and future growth potential.
Both Homestead-Miami and Watkins Glen, along with Chicagoland and Kansas, are owned by NASCAR-affiliated International Speedway Corp. The underlying theme under Bernard has been that the business relationship with ISC wasn't working.
``It'll be played that way, but it is truly a business-to-business representation of what we do at the tracks. It was just a matter of coincidence,'' Printup said. ``The four tracks, we all sat down at the beginning of the year and talked about what we wanted to do. Every business has a model. They have their model, we have ours. We've got to make our decisions.''
NASCAR began racing each summer at Watkins Glen in 1986, and its August weekend has regularly attracted crowds estimated at around 100,000.
Before the stock car series took hold, The Glen was a mecca for open-wheel racing. It has hosted Formula One's U.S. Grand Prix from 1961-80 and CART IndyCar events from 1979-81.
That exposure helped give the track a stellar reputation, and drivers in every series that has raced around its high-speed curves have raved about the layout. ISC has spent millions to upgrade the facility in the past decade, and many of those changes were made specifically for the return of major open-wheel racing in 2005. The inaugural IRL Indy Grand Prix was the venerable track's first open-wheel event in 24 years.
Printup said he was hopeful the series might return in the future.
``We're not going to stop. We love the IndyCar Series,'' Printup said. ``They belong at this track. We miss a year? That doesn't mean we're going to be off it (forever).''
One of the most visible upgrades ISC made was the installation of a huge bank of grandstands along the front straightaway. Despite picture-perfect weather, those stands were virtually empty when Will Power cruised to victory in the Camping World Grand Prix on Fourth of July weekend.
At a press conference at the track before the race, Bernard said the open-wheel sport had lost 15 to 20 million fans in the 1990s, and it was his job to find a way to get them back. He also said he had asked for increases in sanctioning agreements.
``Attendance is always an issue, but these have been tough economic times, too,'' Printup said. ``It doesn't take a scientist to figure out that there's been some attendance decline. We spent a lot of effort, time, money, everything into promoting those races and we hope that we can get back to them in 2012 and see if maybe we can fit back on. That's the best we'll be able to do. We'll keep on plugging. Hopefully, we can find some common ground.''
The 2005 IndyCar Series race was held in September and then moved to June. It had been run on Fourth of July weekend the past four years, and Printup didn't think that was the best fit.
``It works for you and works against you,'' said Printup, who prefers an event in late June. ``This past year, the forecast was beautiful for 10 days straight, never wavered, and people made plans to be on the beach, be on the lake or in a park somewhere. That had an effect on us.''
Road racing in America came of age at Watkins Glen in 1948 when Cameron Argetsinger obtained a sanction from the Sports Car Club of America for a race that was run on a 6.6-mile course in and around the village using mostly paved roads with a short dirt and gravel stretch.
WGI officials never forgot their roots. They honored Argetsinger by making him grand marshal for the 2005 race and named the trophy given to each IndyCar Series race winner in his name.
Argetsinger died two years ago. News of the demise of the race was bittersweet for his family.
``I'm sorry to see it go,'' Michael Argetsinger said. ``My father's memory will be maintained, certainly. I'm glad it was done in his lifetime. Racing, unfortunately, also has to be business. If you still lose money, it's not a good deal.
``My father always said business was business and you have to make a profit, and I think the position that WGI was in, they simply were pushed into a position where they had to lose money on it. That's not a good business model.''
 

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