BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard met with officials from Barber Motorsports Park and event promoter ZOOM Motorsports regarding the long term of the event weekend at the scenic 2.38-mile, 17-turn venue. The sanctioning agreement runs through 2013.
ZOOM Motorsports president Gene Hallman, who called the event featuring the IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Star Mazda “Birmingham’s version of the Kentucky Derby,” said his intention is to extend the contract “well into the future.”
“This INDYCAR weekend has far exceeded all of our initial expectations,” Hallman said. “ZOOM Motorsports clearly wants to make this event a permanent part of the Birmingham sports calendar. Our corporate support is up this year. Our ticket sales are up, and every metric that we measure is more positive than it was last year. Our title sponsor (Honda) has a significant manufacturing presence near this facility. We’re very high on INDYCAR and its future direction.”
Through its third year, Hallman said the decision to play host to the series “in NASCAR country” has delivered positives all around. The 2012 event drew ticket-buyers from 42 states and six countries, and the promoter announced a three-day attendance of 81,378.
The venue offers grandstands and stadium-style seating on lush lawns, and 52,879 were watching the 90-lap race. The INDYCAR Fan Village with interactive displays from commercial partners was augmented by a Ferris wheel from the late Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, inflatables and more for familes.
“That skepticism disappeared the first year, and frankly it has turned into some level of amazement,” he said. “I was speaking with the INDYCAR merchandise personnel and they said the percentage of driver-specific merchandise that is being purchased has grown significantly since the first year. That means that our fans are developing their favorites and they are becoming more and more educated about INDYCAR.”
Added Bernard: “I think (ZOOM Motorsports) is an outstanding promoter and I’d like to see them do another event somewhere,” Bernard said. “This is a first-class facility and it has a first-class promoter. It’s an honor for INDYCAR to be here.”