MILWAUKEE – Reports of IndyCar’s demise in Milwaukee apparently were premature. The open-wheel racing circuit is expected to return to the Milwaukee Mile this summer, with a race scheduled for June 16.
Veteran open-wheel racer Michael Andretti is involved with the race, through his Andretti Sports Marketing group. Kevin Healy, formerly the senior vice president of marketing and planning for AirTran Airways, will serve as managing director of the event, which is being billed as Milwaukee IndyFest.
“Andretti Sports Marketing is excited about promoting IndyFest at the Milwaukee Mile,” Andretti said in an official announcement Friday. “It’s a historic track in a great city, and it’s a place that has always been a favorite for my family. But, more importantly, it’s an ideal track for Indy cars and always produces exciting racing for the fans.”
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IndyCar has a long history at the Mile, the nation’s oldest operating raceway. The track hosted the first race following the Indianapolis 500 for all but five years between 1947 and 1994.
No track has hosted more IndyCar races than the Mile, where 116 have been run since it opened in 1903. Andretti won five races at the Mile as a driver, and his teams have won three more during his time as an owner.
“It’s such an iconic track,” 2008 Milwaukee winner Ryan Briscoe said last summer. The series left Milwaukee following the 2009 season due to a dispute between the series and the track promoter, leaving the Mile without a major event in 2010. Last year, a group operated the race on a one-year deal, but the lack of a title sponsor and promotional difficulties – as well as a morning rainstorm – led to poor attendance.
After the race, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard called a return to Milwaukee a “50/50 proposition.”
When the 2012 schedule was released, Milwaukee was not originally included. But the desire for more oval tracks and the Mile’s history and popularity with racers led the series to reconsider.