No Milwaukee And Now No Boston

The start of the ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Milwaukee Mile. [Russ Lake Photo]

The start of the 2015 ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Milwaukee Mile. [Russ Lake Photo]

by Paul Gohde

It had just begun to sink in that there would be no Verizon IndyCar race contested at the Milwaukee Mile this season when word arrived last week that the inaugural Boston Grand Prix, scheduled for Labor Day weekend on the streets of that historic city, had been cancelled. Now the only race in Boston this year might be Paul Revere and his horse racing to head off a British attack.

With the IndyCar schedule now reduced to 15 events, the smallest schedule since 2012, and with just two races to be run after July 31, a barely six month-long calendar of events can’t hold much allure for major TV networks nor new teams/sponsors thinking of becoming involved in the sport.

Recent years have seen proposed events in such diverse locations as Brazil, Mexico City, China and the Middle East fail to take the green flag despite having been promised as the next step forward for the series.

A proposed series of non-points international events were discussed by IndyCar, but not much has been mentioned since.

Phoenix and Elkhart Lake return for 2016, but talk of revisiting Gateway, Michigan, Milwaukee, New Hampshire, Chicago Watkins Glen, and Cleveland in the future sound somewhat hollow now.

Boston’s cancellation may be due more to negative press and governmental greed than any issue with IndyCar, but it remains that due diligence on the part of the local Boston promoter who worked with IndyCar may have prevented the last-minute cancellation,

Street races through large metro areas such as Boston are expensive to set up and are quite invasive to the daily routine of the city involved. St. Petersburg is contested mainly on an airport facility (as was Cleveland), while Barber, Mid-Ohio, Road America and Sonoma are established road courses designed for road racing and are outside of metro areas. Perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere than city street courses.

It’s now the first week in May, 2016, the 100th Indianapolis 500 is still more than three weeks away, but NASCAR has already posted its 2017 schedule. It’s a calendar full of consistent dates and traditional venues; a calendar that sponsors, fans, media and teams can plan on long before the season starts. It’s also a calendar filled with a large share of events and tracks (12) promoted by International Speedways Corporation which is closely aligned with NASCAR.

Perhaps Indy Car or the Indianapolis Speedway should consider self-promoting some new events to get them off to a successful start before turning them over to outside promotional groups. We’ve been told that Indy Car waits for race promoters to approach them with event proposals. Maybe it’s become time for a different, more aggressive approach.

The healthy future of the series may be resting on such a change.

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”