While widely expected to include one Brazilian event on its 2010 schedule, IndyCar officials have revealed that a double-header in South America might be more likely as the series looks to capitalise on its relationship with fuel partner APEX.
With a formal calendar announcement expected at the start of next month, the pressure is on to finalise details of the 'overseas' portion, and the Indianapolis Star
reports that IRL commercial president Terry Angstadt and VP of competition Tony Cotman, are heading to Brazil hoping to both sign a contract to race in Helio Castroneves' hometown, Ribeirao Preto, and inspect a second circuit planned for Campinas, about an hour from Sao Paulo. Should that not prove fruitful, a possible back-up plan in the shape of a street course race in Rio de Janeiro is apparently on the blocks.
According to Angstadt, both races would, in accordance with APEX's wishes, be aimed for March next year in a bid to bring the IRL some early season coverage to rival the US' other main summer sports.
"We thought we were off the radar screen too long when we started in April this year, and that was one of our goals, to start in March," he told Associated Press
recently, "[Ribeirao Preto] will be run through a city park - it's a high-tech city, very cosmopolitan and it's in the heart of the sugarcane area."
As reported previously [see story HERE
], there could be bigger changes to the 2010 schedule than merely the addition of a race - or two - in Brazil, with Angstadt confirming that Barber Motorsports Park remained on the wish-list. The IndyCar Series staged one of two pre-season tests at the Alabama venue in March and, having opened the doors to curious onlookers, is keen to capitalise on the interest generated
"We have given them every indication that we would love to go there and race," Angstadt said, all the while admitting that no deal has been done.
Thee is unlikely to be any expansion in the number of races on the schedule in 2010, however, with Angstadt and competition president Brian Barnhart eyeing a total of no more than 18 rounds. Thus if races are added, others will have to make way.
Angstadt continues to keep his counsel on which venues may be in jeopardy, but talks with International Speedway Corporation are designed to keep races at the five tracks it owns. Only the event at Chicagoland Speedway is so far signed for 2010 and, while Richmond and Homestead remain uncertain, Angstadt expects Watkins Glen and Kansas Speedway to return, although the Glen has, apparently, requested a move away from the 4 July weekend.
Iowa Speedway is also expected to play a part next season, despite rain affecting this year's event, while New Hampshire is angling after a mid-summer date, possibly the one occupied until this season by Kentucky Speedway, which looks set to move to the Labor Day weekend in 2010. The city of Baltimore is also rumoured to be proposing a possible street course, albeit for beyond 2010.
What is more certain for 2011 or 2012 is the addition of at least one event in China. Angstadt has confirmed that talks are underway, potentially to take the series to Olympic sailing venue Qingdao, and admits that he would hope to see a Chinese driver in the race. He has already identified three potential prospects that could soon be competing in the Firestone Indy Lights series. While another street road course appears likely, the Chinese are reported to be considering a purpose-built venue to hold up to 500,000 fans.