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03/30/2012

Adding another IndyCar race to Texas could spell an end to the series at TMS

Lat20110612200761_pv_235263Even though NASCAR's track attendance and TV ratings are down relative to their almost absurd zenith about 10 years ago, that relative lag has not created any type of genuine momentum for open wheel racing to fill in.

The IndyCar series may offer compelling racing, but in terms of mainstream appeal it has not been able to register outside of the Indianapolis 500, which much like the Kentucky Derby remains more of a cultural event than it does a sporting one.

Regardless, the IndyCar series is trying to grow and establish a wider footprint, especially in the great state a' Texas. The Shell Penzoil Grand Prix of Houston is slated to start in October of 2013.

What the IndyCar series is doing by adding this second race in Texas is a dangerous risk, and it could be a beginning of the end of this open wheel race at Texas Motor Speedway.

TMS has had the IndyCar race to itself for the entire region for more than a decade, and despite that fact interest in the event remains just OK. Despite numerous unique attempts to inject some interest in the event, most notably the twin races last year, it has never has gained any real traction. It is no secret track president Eddie Gossage's relationship with the open wheel series has been ... uneasy. Selling IndyCar to the race fans of FW/d is not an easy pitch, and IndyCar's ways of doing things aren't necessarily alligned with Gossage.

By the sounds of this article in the Houston Chronicle, Gossage and IndyCar are not on the same page in regards to market research. IndyCar believes there is enough of a market to support two races. Gossage does not agree. Read between the lines and it sounds like Gossage is saying that there isn't wide interest for this series here, and to add another event will split what is a decimal-point market.

IndyCar could be saying that the Houston event is a road course, which will draw people because it's a different racing experience.

Adding another race, even though it's months apart from the TMS June event, could finally be enough for Gossage to pull out of IndyCar.

Personally, I like the series and open wheel racing. I grew up on it. It's faster. It's exciting. But for about 10,000 reasons the sport has become niche. The rub is that both Gossage is right about potentially splitting a small audience, and IndyCar is right trying to grow it with another event.

@MacEngelProf
tengel@star-telegram.com
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Comments

Brian from NY

I hope Eddie can explain why they had better attendance at TMS when Champ Car was running in Houston. If you go back to the pre-split years, Champ Car ran a very successful race in Houston (over 100,000 in attendence) while IndyCar had better attendance at TMS.
It seems Eddie just likes to bitch any time he gets an opportunity. Maybe he should focus on promoting his track instead of trying to tell everyone what to do.

Brian from NY

I hope Eddie can explain why they had better attendance at TMS when Champ Car was running in Houston. If you go back to the pre-split years, Champ Car ran a very successful race in Houston (over 100,000 in attendence) while IndyCar had better attendance at TMS.
It seems Eddie just likes to bitch any time he gets an opportunity. Maybe he should focus on promoting his track instead of trying to tell everyone what to do.

TMx

I like your blog.

I have the attention span of a gnat.

This article was too long to read but the picture is cool and i like it that you wrote a lot of words.

But articles like today's "Quote of the Day" are more my size and speed.

Fro

Um, Texas Motor Speedway is as far away from Houston as Detroit is from Indianapolis, or Mid-Ohio from Indianapolis.

Kelly Paul

It's a great sport. I wish that sport could figure itself out. Ownership groups should come together and put out unified front. Auto racing is truely the coolest sport in all the world.

Mitchell McDeere

Good article. You're right.

Nathan

Nooooooo. Eddie Gossage is the problem, not the new race in Houston. And it's not like you're running two races in a state the size of main here...Texas is a big place with lots of people. Oh yea, FT Worth is 4 hours from Houston. I'd stop listening to that guy...Indycar will be just fine.

Niles Anders

This cracks me up. Eddie says he's gonna dump Indy Car if they sign up with Houston. So Indy Car signs up with Houston. Who's dumping who? Then Austin says 'Come race here'.

john of sparta

last night's attendance figures have
answered the 2013 question. maybe
indycar goes to Pocono.

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