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Pocono Raceway looks to cancel contract with IndyCar

The future of IndyCar at Pocono Raceway is in jeopardy after failing to attract large numbers of fans this year.
The future of IndyCar at Pocono Raceway is in jeopardy after failing to attract large numbers of fans this year.
Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

IndyCar may be leaving Pocono Raceway for a second time after this season, despite having signed a 3-year contract with the track in 2013. The deal marked the first time IndyCar raced there after an absence of 24 years. However, it has failed to attract audiences as anticipated for this weekend’s Pocono IndyCar 500 fueled by Sunoco. In fact, Pocono Raceyway’s Chief Executive Officer and president Brandon Igdalsky commented that “ticket sales for Sunday’s event were kind of scary compared with last year when they crowd numbered somewhere between 30,000-35,000.” He plans to discuss the possibility of dumping the final year of the deal with Mark Miles, CEO of IndyCar, and other series officials.

“We’ll do it if we have to if we can get out of the contract. There is no reason to lose money, especially in such a large amount,” he stated. The track has battled back from severe financial difficulties several times in its lifetime.

The IndyCar World Series held its first 500-mile race at Pocono in 1989, as part of the IndyCar 500-mile Triple Crown. Suring that race, Emerson Fittipaldi set a qualifying track record of 211.715 mph. However, he and other drivers criticized the track for “its roughness, lack of catch fencing and runoff areas.” Finally, after continued fighting between Pocono Raceway’s management and the sanctioning body, it was removed from the IndyCar schedule, until a meeting between Igdalsky and IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard at the 2012 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, resulted in a decision to revive the relationship between the two.

Bernard later made the official announcement that the IndyCar Series would return to Pocono with a 400-mile race on July 7, 2013. He also stated that from 2013, the “Indianapolis 500, Pocono IndyCar 400 and MAVTV 500 at California's Auto Club Speedway would mark a revival of IndyCar's all-oval Triple Crown, with a $1 million bonus paid to a driver who wins all three races in a single season.”