On this week's episode of Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain, Speed correspondent Robin Miller spoke with Despain about the expansion of the IndyCar Series calendar in 2013. In addition to the recently announced race in Houston for 2013, Miller mentioned that circuit representatives from Austin have reached out to Indy to host a race. Miller said the following about the discussions with Austin and Randy Bernard, CEO of the IZOD IndyCar Series:
AUSTIN: Formula One is making its debut on the 3.4-mile road course in November but Bernard says, "They approached us about having a race next year and we’re evaluating it.’’ Is Texas big enough for an oval (Texas Motor Speedway), a street race (Houston) and a road race (Austin)?
Following up on this story, Dave Doolittle at the Austin American-Statesman reached out to Circuit of The Americas for confirmation of the discussions:
A Circuit of the Americas spokeswoman said officials have been talking to several series that have expressed an interest in racing at the track currently under construction in southeastern Travis County.
“We have no formal agreements beyond those already announced to unveil at this time,” Julie Loignon told the American-Statesman this week."
The potential to host the IndyCar Series here at COTA would be a real treat for many American fans of open-wheeled racing. The IndyCar Series is an American sporting icon with a very dedicated following, drawing as many as 350,000 fans to the Indianapolis 500.
Though of a different ethos than the typical Indy track, COTA would operate more like Infineon Raceway in Sonoma Valley, an exciting track with plenty of elevation change, challenging the teams and drivers on a different level than their more traditional oval, street or tri-oval races.
With an existing oval race in Dallas at Texas Motorspeedway, the newly announced street race in Houston, and a race at an FIA spec road course in Austin, fans would be given the trifecta of motorsports experience, the ultimate gift for an IndyCar fan.
One could argue that these events would be too close and would compete against each other, but I would argue the opposite. Each event gains collective exposure and promotion by the success of each other, thereby accelerating the growth of the sport overall.
Similar to arguments about competition between F1 races in Montreal, Austin, and New Jersey, this argument assumes the sport will not expand its fan base and the attendance will be split between venues. On the contrary, I have and will continue to argue the opposite, that they all stand to gain far more by working together to expand their overall exposure to the entire American market.
Finally, COTA has said in the past that they're intending to expand their motorsports offering beyond F1, MotoGP, and V8 Supercars. Given the large existing market of fans and sponsors in American motorsports like Grand-Am, ALMS, NASCAR, and many others, IndyCar would be a valuable asset to their programming list and a gateway into the existing American fan base and sponsorship markets.