A.J. Foyt the pragmatist regarding the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston: "I'm glad to see the race come back to my hometown. I can save on hotel bills.”
A.J. Foyt the IZOD IndyCar Series team owner/businessman and racing fan: “It should be a great event for Houston."
That was the prevailing sentiment earlier this week when Mi-Jack Promotions, in conjunction with officials from Harris County, Shell and INDYCAR, announced that the series would race on a concrete circuit at Reliant Park on Oct. 4-6, 2013.
“Everyone from the press to the Shell and Pennzoil officials to Roger Penske to A.J. Foyt Racing’s Larry Foyt, everyone is really engaged and excited about this event coming to Houston,” said Randy Bernard, who attended the announcement in Houston. “This is the fourth-largest market in the United States and I think our sponsors are excited and it fits so well with what we’re trying to do -- to take INDCYAR to the biggest cities in the United States and reach not only our purists but also that new demographic.
“Reliant Park has done an amazing job of making it such a destination space in Houston. That’s what makes it very appealing to me. We feel like we can really capitalize and make this one of the premier events on the circuit. We're an American-based racing body, and I think we have a lot of momentum building. Our job is to create big events, and we feel like this can be one of our big events.
“I expect big things in Houston.”
Penske also noted that Houston is ideal for INDYCAR’s schedule expansion.
“We need to have date equity, we need to be in places in cities that will support it,” the Team Penske owner said. “Racers give a lot back, and the opportunity to support many of the venues within the city will also be important.”
CART, the predecessor of Champ Car, hosted a race on a street course in downtown Houston in 1998-2001. Construction forced the cancellation of the race, but Champ Car announced it would return in 2006 at Reliant Park just south of downtown. A local organizing committee was created in 2010 to seek a title sponsor for an Indy car race, and its efforts – along with Mi-Jack Promotions principal Mike Lanigan – were rewarded at the news conference.
Bobby Rahal, co-owner of the IZOD IndyCar Series team with Lanigan and David Letterman, said the addition of the Houston race is exciting news for the series and Southeast Texas.
"I joined Mike several years ago to speak with the business community about the potential of having a Grand Prix," Rahal said, "and it was clear that there is a tremendous amount of local support for the event, which is critical for long-term success. It will be a marquee event for the series."
Past Track Winners
- 2007 Sebastien Bourdais
- 2006 Sebastien Bourdais
- 2001 Gil de Ferran
- 2000 Jimmy Vasser
- 1999 Paul Tracy
- 1998 Dario Franchitti