Sonoma Raceway will not seek a new contract to continue hosting the Verizon IndyCar Series after 2018. Far from a surprise in light of IndyCar’s new agreement to race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, track president Steve Page confirmed negotiations for an extension have come to end.
“We’ve been negotiating for months on a renewal and have a definitive direction from our owners in Charlotte that we won’t do this unless there’s a path to profitability,” he told RACER. “That was expressed to IndyCar, and was not received favorably. We are not planning on holding an IndyCar race [in 2019], and are working toward arranging other activities for next year’s schedule.”
Sonoma Raceway, owned by Speedway Motorsports Incorporated along with Texas Motor Speedway, is known to have a ‘geographic exclusivity’ clause in its contracts. In recent years, TMS has bristled at the idea of in-state rival Circuit of The Americas being included on the IndyCar calendar, and while Page says having two IndyCar rounds in the greater Bay Area would not be favorable, it wasn’t the main problem.
“There has been a lot hung on the clause in our contract about geographic exclusivity,” he added. “And for us, it’s not about not wanting Laguna Seca to also have an event. It’s strictly about the finances. We were losing money on the event, and we could not continue to do that. What we were willing to pay for a sanction, for us, made sense financially. But it did not for IndyCar in what they wanted from us. And with what Monterey County is willing to pay, [IndyCar] went in the direction they believe is best.”
Page also hopes to have IndyCar back at Sonoma Raceway if the cost to host the series will not result in losses.
“We never close doors,” he said. “I genuinely like all the people we work with at IndyCar; it’s a first-class organization and the series is on a good trajectory. But it’s not growing so fast to where the price being asked to hold an event is met with an ability to take in enough income for us to make a profit.”