The global economic crisis continues to impact the auto racing world. The IndyCar Series recently had to cancel it’s labor day event. The Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle will not be on the 2009 schedule. This will leave the IndyCar Series with 17 scheduled races on the 2009 calendar.
Race organizer Roger Penske cited the deteriorating economic conditions as the main reason. He did not go as far as calling it a cancellation, hoping for a return to his “home race”, but merely referred to it as a postponement. Regardless of what its called, it’s not on the schedule for 2009.
The race, which was to have been run over Labor Day weekend is a prime spot on any racing calendar as the battle for entertainment dollars hits premium levels. Especially during a recession…or worse, the money people are spending on entertainment items has certainly dropped. IndyCar officials are working on a replacing the event.
The Indy Racing League made its debut race in 2007 at the Belle Isle track. From all accounts it was a very successful event and the promises of many future races looked very bright, until the economy woes struck with full force in 2008.
Another contributing factor may be the loss of two marquee teams in the American Le Mans Series. The ALMS and the IndyCar Series made for a full weekend of racing and have been paired together for the past several seasons.
The Audi ALMS team has won each LMP1 championship since 2000 and have said their pullout is due to wanting to focus on European racing. Underneath it all, in the current economic environment, this seems an unlikely reason. Audi, the company that prides it self on selling its cars by winning races, would seem to be putting a big hole in their marketing plan if that were true…at least domestically.
Porsche, the parent company of Audi, is also pulling out of the series. The teams will participate in the 12 hours of Sebring on March 21st.