The chief executive officer (CEO) of Hulman & Company, which operates INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, sees the Verizon IndyCar Series continuing its upward trajectory in 2018.
Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, on Thursday unveiled the 2018 schedule in Portland, Oregon, site of the new addition to the calendar. Portland International Raceway (PIR), which hosted Indy car races from 1984-2007, is back on the docket for a Labor Day weekend race next year.
PIR provides a fresh zip to the schedule to go along with the 16 races that return from this year. In Miles’ eyes, a strong schedule provides the foundation upon which continued growth and success will rest. Couple that with the deep and talented roster of drivers competing, as well as the great anticipation for the universal aero kit that debuts next season, and momentum for the Verizon IndyCar Series keeps rolling forward.
“I think the championship and its popularity starts with the platform, which is the schedule,” Miles said. “We’re very pleased with the schedule we’ve been able to announce. It then goes to the car that we’re racing, and we think the new car looks great, looks hot and will perform well—allowing for better, closer racing. And then it’s the drivers—and not necessarily in that order.”
He said 2017 IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden will remain competitive next year and will be among the leading ambassadors of the series.
“He’s a very appealing young guy along with a lot of young guys challenging our veterans. The narratives, the storylines, are fantastic and we’re thinking 2018 is going to be a great year,” Miles added.
He pointed to several highlights on the schedule, including date equity with nearly every venue, and his excitement that the three-year deal for Portland had come to fruition. Green Savoree Racing Promotions, which also puts on series events at St. Petersburg, Toronto and Mid-Ohio, will promote IndyCar’s return to the Pacific Northwest, with the race weekend running August 31 to September 2.
Portland replaces Watkins Glen International, which struggled to draw strong enough crowds in its two-year run on Labor Day weekend. Part of that can be attributed to a short time to promote the event in 2016, when it was added to the schedule three months before the race date, and abnormally cold and wet weather on race weekend this year.
While admitting it was “bittersweet” to see Watkins Glen’s iconic road course fall off the schedule, Miles and Portland officials are confident the Labor Day weekend date can work with the track being minutes from the city center.
While the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule currently sits at 17 races, Miles said the possibility of adding an 18th event—at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City—still exists. The permanent road course hosted Indy car races in 1980-81 and from 2002-07.
Negotiations with Mexico officials have been delayed following a devastating earthquake last month. If added, Miles said the event would likely fall in early August on one of the two current off weekends between the races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Pocono Raceway.
“Almost all the pieces are in place,” Miles said. “There’s a lot of excitement about bringing IndyCar back to Mexico City. It’s a great facility, it’s a great market with a lot of Indy car interest and tradition. But everything’s got to be in place,” Miles added.