Circuit of The Americas chairman Bobby Epstein believes that the arrival of a second IndyCar race in Texas might also deliver a boost to Texas Motor Speedway, even if he admits that it took time for the latter to embrace the idea of IndyCar visiting Austin.
Texas Motor Speedway has largely enjoyed a Texan monopoly on IndyCar since joining the schedule in 1996, save for the series’ sporadic returns to Houston. However, TMS president Eddie Gossage had previously discouraged IndyCar from pursuing an event at COTA, less than 200 miles away.
But Epstein is optimistic that the gap between the two events, coupled with the opportunity they present in allowing Texan fans to experience IndyCars on both a road course and an oval, can ultimately help reinforce the fan base for both venues.
“It had to wait until the timing was right,” Epstein told RACER.
“We wanted to be very sensitive to Texas Motor Speedway and Fort Worth because they’ve done a great job with their IndyCar race. It being an oval and this being a road race and a different time of the year, I think it just took time for everyone to get comfortable that COTA wouldn’t be a threat to their event and that the track would complement the growth of the sport. Because I think it is good for the sport for them to be at COTA. It’s really designed to be America’s premier destination for world class racing in terms of a road race. So we’ve been hoping it would happen one day, and we’re glad it’s finally here.”
Gossage is currently overseas on vacation and couldn’t be reached directly for comment, but embraced COTA’s arrival in a statement to RACER:
“We welcome COTA to the IndyCar Series and congratulate them on adding this event. I expect they will draw a huge crowd to their first race and that will be good for the sport. Texas has a rich tradition in the sport, following drivers like A.J. Foyt, Johnny Rutherford, Lloyd Ruby, Jim McElreath and Greg Ray. This adds to that heritage in the Lone Star State.”