Mark Miles swears he’s not trying to trample on tradition by having two races next May, he simply wants to try and enhance the month.
“We only had a few thousand people on [Indianapolis 500] opening day this year and we keep doing the same things and it’s not working,” said Miles, the decision maker for Hulman & Company, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IZOD IndyCar Series. “I want to protect the Indianapolis 500 but we need to look at what we can do to help the race and IndyCar. We need make more out of the month and I don’t see how starting off with a road race could hurt it.”
Miles made it clear it’s still up to a vote by the board of directors and not a done deal, but getting a title sponsor would be a nice way to ensure it’s not the disaster some longtime racing fans and some writers are predicting.
“Can we make it a success, aesthetically and financially? That’s our challenge,” he continued.
The race would likely fall on Saturday, May 10, to avoid tempting fate on Mother’s Day and it’s possible it could be a double-header with the new United SportsCar Racing series.
Miles understands the ticket price will need to be reasonable because it will be a local crowd, but IMS won’t be able to do any kind of season ticket package for 2014.
“It will be a central Indiana event, no doubt, and we certainly don’t want to do anything that will negatively impact our Indy 500 sales,” he continued. “But this isn’t 1960 and we need to try something different. One of the strengths of our series is versatility, and I think it would be cool to open May with Indy cars on the road course and then have a build-up to the greatest race in the world.”
Called boring and unchallenging by past Formula 1 and MotoGP racers, the IMS road course is widely regarded as needing a facelift. Graham Rahal is going to test his Indy car on Wednesday in the conventional (F1 track) style and also by running the other way (as per MotoGP).
“If we do this race, we’ll likely modify the track,” admitted Miles.
The boss of IndyCar since January is hopeful of releasing the schedule over the next couple weeks during IndyCar’s four-week layoff before the Houston double-header. Despite the fact Baltimore draws well and is interested in a three-year contract extension, the current Labor Day date isn’t available the next couple years, so the challenge could be finding a date.
“They want to extend and we want to come back here,” said Miles. “We just have to work out a suitable date for both of us.”
If May opens with IndyCar on the road course, finding a new spot for Brazil may prove the biggest challenge since early May was optimum for that street race.