IRL Excludes SMI
July 30, 2008 | 4:04 P.M. EST
Both of SMI's tracks in Loudon, New Hampshire and Las Vegas were thought to have a place on the 2009 IRL calendar, including holding the series' finale at LVMS. Those race were thought to be added to SMI's current deal with the IRL for its Texas and Infineon Raceway tracks.
But when the official schedule was released Wednesday, the league's 18-race slate did not feature either venue.
“I’m extremely disappointed for our fans, who have given us very positive feedback about the possible return of IndyCar racing to New Hampshire Motor Speedway," said New Hampshire's Executive vice president and general manager Jerry Gappens. "In fact, in a recent poll on our website, nhms.com, nearly 80-percent of our fans said they wanted to see this exciting form of motorsports return. That’s a strong endorsement, and I don’t understand the decision not to include our facility on next year's schedule."
Gappens believes SMI had an agreement from the IRL to bring events not only to Loudon but to the company's Las Vegas facility, which would have been the site of the season finale and championship banquet.
"I sat in a meeting and watched (SMI CEO) Bruton (Smith) ask them for a race here, which they seemed extremely interested in doing, pending scheduling conflicts with Japan," Gappens said. "In addition, in that same meeting, they asked him to host the series finale in Las Vegas, which Mr. Smith agreed to and even offered the speedway and financial support for it to happen this year. Having attended that meeting in early June, it’s hard to believe that neither facility is on the new schedule."
Only 18 races comprise the 2009 slate and Gappens believes added dates at New Hampshire and Las vegas would have been beneficial to the league and its teams.
"The feedback that has been conveyed to me is that they don’t want to add an additional race to the schedule because of the increased cost to the teams," he said. "However, I believe that the purse and the strength of adding the seventh largest media market in the country would offset those costs and concerns. I think this market and facility have a lot to offer the team and series sponsors."