Denver “great market” for IndyCar, IMS president Doug Boles says
ARVADA — Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles declared Denver a top market for expansion on Wednesday but said it might take 2-5 years to launch an NTT IndyCar street race in Denver once a promoter and location were identified.
“Denver obviously is a market that is super important and as the NTT IndyCar Series is looking for different places, the Denver market is one of the ones that always comes to the top,” Boles said. “I think the challenge might be to find the right location and then find a promoter who is in the market and can really promote it, sell the tickets and get the excitement and get the hype around it.
“It’s probably not something in the next couple of years but it is definitely something that I can see in the future.”
Boles spoke during a visit to Sonsio Vehicle Protection headquarters in Arvada to celebrate its sponsorship of the Sonsio Grand Prix at IMS in May and unveil Scott McLaughlin’s No. 3 Team Penske car. More than 125 race fans attended the event.
Boles was impressed but not completely surprised by the turnout.
“There are so several people in Colorado that are race fans and that go to the Indianapolis 500,” said Boles, who estimated 1,900 tickets for the race are purchased from Colorado buyers. “… Then there’s the history of racing here, the Unsers and Pikes Peak.”
The Pikes Peak Hill Climb in Colorado Springs is one of those events that is similar to the Indy 500, Boles said.
“It is a traditional event. It is passed down from generation to generation. It’s the best hill climb in the world. The Indy 500 is the best race.”
Boles also pointed out a strong connection to drivers in this area. J.R. Hildebrand lives in Boulder and Stefan Wilson resides in Denver while retired Indy 500 champion Buddy Lazier lives in Vail.
“It is a great market,” Boles said.
Boles ruled out a return to Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain. PPIR hosted Indy Racing League events from 1997 to 2005 as well as Indy Lights, AMA and NASCAR Busch and Trucks races. It is currently being used as a club track.
“I think if something were in the Denver market, just given where Pikes Pike (International Raceway) is, I don’t think it is in a state where you can go back down there and run there right now,” he said. “In big cities like Denver, the success is when you can bring the racing to the community, to the city, so I think it might end up being some sort of street race if anything.”
Boles pointed to the success IndyCar has had with street races in St. Petersburg, Fla., Nashville, Toronto and Long Beach. “Those are some of the best races we have.”
Champ Cars raced a CART-sanctioned event downtown near the Civic Center in 1990 and ’91. CART returned to Denver in 2002 with a race on a 1.64-mile temporary circuit around the then-named Pepsi Center. The final race was held in 2006.
“Once you find a promoter and you can really understand how that’s going to go, you’re probably somewhere in the 2-5 year range to really get through the permitting, understand how that affects the community, making sure you’ve got the fencing and the wall and all those pieces together,” Boles said. “So it’s not something that can happen in the near-near term but you are in that range once you figure out the promoter and location.”
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