It seems as though the rumors of the Indycar Series heading to Brazil are no long rumors, as Michael Marot of the AP reports it's going to happen. Marot reports that Terry Angstadt, president on the IRL's commercial division, confirmed that the Ribeirao Preto Brazil race will kick off the season and will be held in March.
Don't get me wrong, I love the ovals, but this is a tremendous move for the series.
The move to Brazil further strengthens Indycar's reach around the world, and does it in a way that will minimally affect the U.S. Television times. With Ribeirao Preto just one hour ahead of the Eastern time zone it'll be hugely different then the current race in Motegi, and probably held on a Sunday afternoon.
Another great aspect to the agreement is that the racing season will open sooner. This year the first race wasn't until April, just a month before the kickoff to the Month of May. Hopefully St. Petersbug, Long Beach and Kansas will stay locked into the current format with a week off between Brazil and the Grand Prix of St. Pete.
But the key to the deal is that it keeps ApexBrasil happy. As most of you know, the Indycar Series switched from U.S. corn based ethanol to the Brazilion Sugarcane variety over the offseason. But what some of you may not know is that Apex Brazil is not just an ethanol company. They are also involved in Construction, Entertainment, Fashion, Machinery, Technology and Health, and the rumors are out there that if Indycar had a race in Brazil, ApexBrasil would want to have sponsorship on every car in the league, which would be HUGE!
There have also been rumors that China is interested in holding an Indycar Series race beginning in either 2011 or 2012 and those rumors could also become reality after Marot's report. The race would be held in Qingdao, the home to the 2008 Beijing Olympics Sailing events, and would hold up to 500,000 fans.
I have mixed emotions as to the amount of fans the Chinese race would hold. On the positive side, the race would bring in a crazy amount of money to not only the league but the teams as well. But I don't like the fact that the Indianapolis 500 would no longer be the largest race in the world.
“We thought we were off the radar screen too long when we started in April this year, and that was one of our goals, to start in March. It’s a great economy down there. Has the world economic crisis affected them? Yes, but not as much as the U.S.”
"It will be run through a city park,” Angstadt said. “It’s a high-tech city, it’s very cosmopolitan and it’s in the heart of the sugarcane area.” -Terry Angstadt
“What differentiates this series is that these cars are designed to run on all these types of tracks and no other series is like that. I think it merits marketing.” -Tim Cendric
“March in the U.S. is very much dominated by March Madness and basketball tournaments and that’s very difficult to contend with. It’s really not much different from what baseball has done the last couple of years, opening its season in Japan.” -Brian Barnhart