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MAY 1, 2000

George predicts 2000 United States GP will be profitable

TONY GEORGE, the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, says that the United States Grand Prix in September will make a profit this year. George was speaking during a conference on the business of motor racing at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, in Indianapolis. He said that demand for tickets had been much stronger than expected and said that the event would be a sell-out. He added that the Speedway should have built a longer infield road course so that more of the existing seats could be used for the F1 event. At the moment the seating in Turn Three is too far from the F1 track to be used. "We could have sold them easily," George said.

The track is expected to have a crowd of around 200,000 for the September 24 race but George admitted that if the demand for tickets remains strong in 2001, the infield course may be lengthened so that all 300,000 seats can be sold. The Speedway already has plans for a loop of track to curl through the infield in front of the Turn Three grandstands. This would rapidly help Indianapolis to pay off the huge investment made to build the F1 circuit and the new pit buildings.

If George is correct the United States Grand Prix will have the biggest crowd of any modern F1 race. The largest to date was in Hungary in 1986 when an estimated 200,000 people attended although it was impossible for the organizers to issue official figures as many spectators came over the walls at the Hungaroring. There have often been vast crowds at Monza but once again official figures are hard to establish. In the 1960s and 1970s the Nurburgring used to attract crowds of 250,000 people along its 14-mile route.