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IndyCar CEO: minimum of 19 series events, possibly by 2013

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Associated Press
8/5/2012 1:11:04 PM
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LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Look for an expansion of IndyCar's schedule by at least four events.

At least that's the plan of the series' CEO, Randy Bernard.

The 2012 schedule includes just 15 events, and Bernard said that's just not enough.

"We have to have a minimum of 19 races. That's very important," Bernard said on Sunday just before the start of the IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio.

He said it's a matter of casting a brighter spotlight on the series' key figures.

"We have to be able to bring more attention to these drivers and these sponsors," Bernard said. "We need to create more compelling story lines. The more races we have the more exposure the drivers get and the better opportunity we have to create those story lines."

Bernard said he learned while CEO of Professional Bull Riders that the more events, the more exposure.

"In my past sport, we started out with, I think, eight events then it was 12 then went to 14, then 16, then 24," he said. "Until we hit 24, we couldn't build any momentum and couldn't build our guys into stars. I don't think we need 24 here because we have a great base right now, but we all need to see some additional events."

He said he stressed to Matt Breeden, IndyCar vice-president of business affairs, that the schedule must be fuller in 2013.

After the race at Mid-Ohio, the series has just three races left: Sonoma on Aug. 26, Baltimore on Sept. 2 and Fontana on Sept. 15.

IndyCar was caught short this year when a scheduled street race in Qingdao, China, set for mid-August, was cancelled after the promoters dropped out. Bernard said to avoid late withdrawals like that in the future, organizers will likely be required to put up huge deposits or a letter of credit.

Bernard said IndyCar was looking to add one or two more ovals to the series next year. He said any additions to the schedule would likely be fit into the gaps currently in the schedule without extending the season or starting much earlier. This year's schedule began with St. Petersburg on March 25 and will end at Fontana in mid-September.

Next year, the final race will likely be at Houston the first weekend in October.

Bernard said IndyCar is "intrigued" by a race in Germany but felt it was most important to establish the series in North America first and then go from there.

The series will announce the 2013 schedule later, after all contracts are finalized.

St. Petersburg INDYCAR (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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