IndyCar – No Joy in Edmonton

Last night, it was announced that the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights races at the Edmonton City Centre Airport will not happen for 2011 in spite of its being on the confirmed schedule and an agreement between INDYCAR, Octane Racing, and the City of Edmonton. In an article from the Edmonton Sun, it was revealed that negotiations between Octane and the city had reached a terminal end. What caused the breakdown was the City of Edmonton’s late and unilateral move to alter the deal agreed to by all three parties requiring a change to the course and having the circuit use a different runway. This would have added between $2M and $3M in additional costs The truly tragic and unsettling part of this is that no one from INDYCAR was invited to these latest rounds of negotiation and the news that the race was off came as much of a surprise to Terry Angstadt as it did to us fans. Here’s his reaction from the Edmonton Journal’s article on the race’s abrupt termination,

“It is tremendously disappointing, particularly after the fanfare of welcoming Octane to the fold and having the press conference with the mayor (in July). Just in terms of the way it has happened, it doesn’t make you feel terribly welcome. We always say that we need places that want us to be there. We thought we had that in Edmonton. To have this come down and not receive a call is a little shocking.” — Terry Angstadt, Commercial Division President
Read more: Edmonton Journal – Indy Race Spins Over Costs

You can read more of the nasty political back-and-forth details in the recent Edmonton Sun’s article, Indy Race Gassed. There were some really shady things afoot on the city’s side of things. It seems that both Octane and INDYCAR were both caught up in the politics surrounding the airport. As a result, don’t expect the league to be making any attempts to reestablish the event any time soon. In response to speculation about a return perhaps in a season or two Mr. Angstadt replied, “After what happened here, I don’t think Edmonton would be terribly high on our list.”

I suppose the part that upsets me the most is that the league was never even invited to the negotiations. Right now, the IZOD IndyCar Series is really starting to make some positive strides forward, yet it still seems that very little respect is given to the series. This past season, the International Speedway Corporation treated INDYCAR like a red-headed stepchild, offering very little in the way of promotion and the event attendance showed. I’ve seen better turnouts for a high-school football game than what was seen at Kansas and Homestead. This past week, we also found out that the ARCA series bested INDYCAR’s television numbers for 2010. ARCA!!!

On the up-side, there is some time, if the league acts quickly, to schedule a replacement event. Where that replacement event would be was a matter of fun, but completely unfounded, speculation on Twitter last night. Of course, the refrain “ROAD AMERICA” was repeated over and over, but lets be honest with ourselves. Its not going to happen. A location that could happen is Vancouver. League officials have been visiting and talking with folk from Vancouver about a future event. Perhaps this provides the opportunity to push the timeline a bit. It still seems a bit dodgy to me, though. As we sit currently, we’re looking at a 15-race schedule for 2011. Presumably, there are talks ongoing to add Las Vegas as the season finale, but the more time that passes without us hearing any further word, the more uncertain that particular event becomes. Hopefully, some positive news for the series happens fast. It’s in sore need of it.

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3 Thoughts to “IndyCar – No Joy in Edmonton

  1. if we get las vegas, then we have a 50/50 split between ovals and road courses…..

    this just sucks on many levels though, edmonton had huge attendance for a race that took place on a pretty poor course. i wrote off edmonton for next season thinking that the runway closing had ended the deal, but octane came in and brought the prospect of the event back to life.

    one thing is for sure though, canadians are crazy about motorsport so i think the elected officials in the city of edmonton will have a backlash to deal with, along with every promoter and convention taking hard looks at their involvement with edmonton after this debacle. rightly so!

    i’m not torn up about losing edmonton, since it is one of the least exciting races on the schedule, but it is still a huge loss for indycar and the rabid canadian fans.

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  3. Upset with the prospect of the fans not having a race, but I agree with Mike on the point of interest. The race itself was on a poor layout and it was just not overly exciting.

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