More than just a chilly autumn wind blew into Pocono Raceway today–the IZOD IndyCar Series arrived with October at Long Pond today. For many this is an announcement of a lifetime 23 years in the making. To put it in perspective: Ed Carpenter was 8, Marco Andretti 2, Graham Rahal was just 9 months old, while Josef Newgarden was not born for 16 months when IndyCar last raced there.
The excitement at Pocono Raceway today can not be put into words. Local newspaper reporters who have been covering motorsports for decades were there, openly talking about how excited to have something other than NASCAR to cover. The local TV stations were all in attendance covering the event. “Just pulling through the tunnel, and coming into the facility, you really get the feeling this is a special place. That same type of feeling that I get at Indianapolis”, Ed Carpenter told the media members.
The media center came to a standstill when Mario Andretti arrived. Track employees lined up to shake his hand and welcome him back to Pocono Raceway. Mario was treated like royalty upon his arrival. Even the Chief of the Pocono Mountain Regional Police introduced himself to Mario Andretti.
Brandon Igdalsky, President of Pocono Raceway stated, “We have the best fans in all of motorsports, and this is because of them that IndyCar is back here”. While Igdalsky admitted his grandfather, the late legendary “Doc” Joseph Mattioli would be “torn” over the series return, his grandmother Doctor Rose Mattioli often butted heads with her husband over IndyCar racing at Pocono–and Doc Rose gets the sport she loved back home at Pocono.
The new logo was introduced as a throwback to the Schaffer 500 logo of the early 1970s. All the way down to the position of the car and use of car #1. Although the new logo uses the DW12 in stead of the early ‘70s car from the original logo. While currently there is no sponsor name on the logo like the original, Pocono is still looking for a title sponsor for the event.
The race will be the only 400 mile event of the three Triple Crown events, the reason for that has to do with the ABC network. According to Randy Bernard the extra 100 miles would have been a deal breaker for ABC. They want the race to fit in a three hour window on July 7th, and 400 miles would do that. Randy Bernard said otherwise the race would have been on the NBC Sports Network. While NBCSN has been a great partner for IndyCar Randy Bernard said, “To have Pocono on the ABC network was very important.”
There has not yet been an IndyCar test at Pocono, however in the next week or two Ed Carpenter along with possibly one or two other teams might testing at Pocono, (weather permitting).
The Indy Lights Series will be the support series for race weekend in 2013. No word on if they will run Sunday before the 400 mile event or on Saturday. The race weekend will be three days, (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).
There will be an effort to keep many connections to the past in the 2013 race. However, Brandon Igdalsky did say milk will not return, since that is more of an Indianapolis tradition. But there will be Pocono related traditions to come with the race.
In 2010 Randy Bernard stated at Watkins Glen he was pessimistic about a 4th of July weekend event. However Randy Bernard feels that fans will travel further for a good oval race over a road course, and Pocono would do a better job drawing large numbers of fans. Although Randy Bernard is still seemingly nervous on how well the event will do.
Tickets went on sale at 10AM and already dozens were sold immediately. Tickets start as low as $25 for general admission for adults, and half that price for kids 12 and under. You can order them on-line at www.Poconoraceway.com, or by phone calling 1-800-RACEWAY.
On a personal note: I would like to thank several people for this happening. First Brandon Igdalsky, who followed me on Twitter in 2009, and has been a great president of the speedway. He (Igdalsky) has made Pocono one of the best superspeedways in America over these past few years, and only looks for more ways to improve. Next, I would like to thank everyone at OpenPaddock.net who have let me use this media outlet to cheerlead my personal cause. Many other outlets would have not let me be such a strong activist for this event. Most importantly, thank you the fans who have been so supportive, as Brandon Igdalsky stated today, if not for you, this would never have happened.