ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard also said it would “be premature” to make travel plans for an IZOD IndyCar Series event in Houston in autumn 2013 – though INDYCAR and promoters are working out details of a sanctioning agreement.
The Houston Chronicle reported that the Grand Prix of Houston will announce March 28 that it has secured a title sponsor for its event at Reliant Park.
“We are very much engaged in the 2013 schedule,” he said. “Some of our top objectives and priorities are to make sure we continuing to showcase our sport in major markets and that helps our sponsors, our team owners and our television, which are so important to the success of our sport. Houston fits that pretty well.”
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the nation.
“To say that we are going to make an announcement on Wednesday is premature because there is one major step that is missing, and that’s a signed contract,” Bernard continued. “We made significant progress at a meeting this morning, but there is still much to do prior to any announcement.”
Bernard noted that a Houston event wouldn’t be held at the expense of the annual early June race at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval.
“They are two different demographics,” he said. “I believe in a competition clause in the contract of 120 miles and 90 days between events. That’s the only provision we would have.”
Bernard also addressed questions regarding the supply of Lotus engines for the IZOD IndyCar Series teams totaling five. The 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engine is manufactured by Engine Developments Inc. in England. Lotus committed to the program in November 2010 – six months after Chevrolet and Honda.
This season marks the first time since 2005 that there’s engine manufacturer competition in the series, and Lotus teams have held their own so far in the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“We’ve been in deep discussions with all three engine manufacturers and Lotus has been very upfront and honest with us that they are eight weeks behind and they are fully committed,” he said. “One of the biggest issues we’ve seen is a transition in ownership and all bank accounts are frozen for more than a month and a half. It’s only fair that we give them the opportunity to work on it.
“I’ve learned about racing that everyone gets very excited very quickly and my job now is to bring everyone under control and say ‘Here’s the issue and let’s take it to the next step.’ Two weeks ago there were rumors that Jay Penske wouldn’t have any engines and that happened. We have to continue to work with Lotus.
“They are the little engine that is trying. They’re competing against two gorillas in this sport. Let’s try to give them every opportunity to go out there and win.”