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SEPTEMBER 22, 1997

F1 and Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS bosses Tony George and Leo Mehl flew to London last week to have talks with Bernie Ecclestone about the possibility of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosting a Grand Prix in the future. Such a deal has always been one which Ecclestone and FIA boss Max Mosley have wanted as Indianapolis is one of the world's best known race tracks. It would also provide a brilliant way to help Grand Prix racing re-establish itself in the United States of America. Any event would have to be run on a road circuit built in the Indianapolis infield. This is no problem as there is plenty of room on the roads which run through the infield golf course and we have even heard stories that when the golf course was put in at IMS, foundation work was done which would make it easier for a road track to be built. Any such track would use the main straight and part of the first corner.

On his return to the United States George confirmed that he is looking at the idea. "It's feasible," George reported, "but it is really too early to know. Bernie knows I'm interested and he knows I'm sincere but we are no closer to a deal than before I went to the meeting."

Indianapolis Motor Speedway held only one race a year until three years ago when George did a deal with NASCAR for stock cars to race at The Brickyard. The event has become a huge success not only with the fans but also with local commerce. There are talks now taking place for IROC to host an event at IMS and it is logical that this expansion should continue to take in F1 - which would guarantee a big crowd, particularly if the race is linked to Sylvester Stallone's plans for a big movie about Grand Prix racing, which should be coming out in 1999.

The race would be distinct from the Indianapolis 500, which was officially part of the F1 World Championship between 1951-1960. The logical time to hold the event would be at the end of June, a month after the 500. It could be twinned with the Canadian GP in Montreal.

There is no reason that plans for a Grand Prix at Indianapolis should affect Road Atlanta's bid for a race in 1999. There were three F1 races in the US in 1982 and there were two events every year between 1976 and 1984.