HOUSTON -- The new CEO of IndyCar says Houston’s odds are “great” for a return of the IndyCar Series to the grounds of Reliant Park after a four-year absence.
The Houston Grand Prix Local Organizing Committee is pulling out all the stops to convince him that Houston is a sure bet.
"If the city gets behind this event the odds are great,” IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said. “And that's what excites me about the city. If the city of Houston gets behind something there's no telling how big it could be."
To show it has the city’s full support, the Grand Prix of Houston LOC hosted a kick-off event Thursday evening at Reliant Center. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and Motorsports Hall of Famer Bobby Rahal were among the invited guests.
When the Champ Car World and Indy Racing League merged in 2007, the series downsized. Houston was dropped from the schedule. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said as many as three cities on the 17-site IndyCar tour might be dropped from the schedule soon. The organization is considering bringing the Grand Prix of Houston back into the fold.
“We feel great about our chances,” said Austin Crossley, director of sales and marketing for Mi-Jack Promotions. “We feel we have an extremely competitive bid. We think that we're the type of marketplace that Indy Car Series wants to go to."
Bernard, hired as the IndyCar CEO 11 months ago, after a stint as the CEO of Professional Bull Riders, Inc., would not give a timetable for the Grand Prix of Houston decision. But the local organizing committee hopes to have open-wheel racing at full speed around the Astrodome by spring of 2012.
“Let's make sure that the city wants to embrace it and make sure this is the type of event that they want to see grow for the next decade,” said Bernard.