« Panthers Training Camp Information | Main | Panthers Tickets on Sale Friday: Changes Coming to Home Games ... Bill Murphy OUT (Kinda) »

Indy Car leaving Homestead-Miami after 2010 Race

Homesteadindy The Indy Car Series will end its 2010 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, crowning its season champion in South Florida for the second straight year.

After that, however, the future of open wheel racing in South Florida looks murky.

On Thursday, Indy Racing League CEO Randy Bernard said in an e-mail that Homestead would not have an IRL race in 2011 – much less the league's championship.

"While Homestead has been a good track, currently our objectives are not aligned,'' Bernard wrote. “IndyCar must do what is in the best of interest of IndyCar going forward, and we are confident the partners and promoters we have will work very hard to help advance the series. We are confident fans will continue to enjoy the IZOD IndyCar Series championship and its new home.”

Homestead appears to fall victim to not only poor attendance, but a divorce between rival racing factions. The Homestead track is one of four Indy Car circuits owned by NASCAR-run International Speedway Corp.

Kansas, Chicago and Watson Glen are the other ISC tracks that ran Indy Car races in 2010 that aren't expected to host races when the 2011 schedule is announced on Friday.

According to the Indianapolis Star, the Milwaukee Mile will return to the schedule. Indy Car also plans on running a road race in downtown Baltimore for the first time next season. There have been rumors circulating for the past few months that the two racing leagues weren't going to be working together. Some within Indy Car feel the NASCAR-owned tracks don't do much by way of local promotion for their races.

In May, however, Daytona International Speedway shipped the Harley J. Earl Trophy to Indianapolis as Chip Ganassi was attempting to become the first team owner to win both the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 in the same year. After Ganassi's Dario Franchitti won the Indy 500, both he and Ganassi posed with both the Earl and the Borg-Warner trophies the following day on the front straightaway at Indy.

It was the first time the Earl Trophy had left Daytona Beach.

"IndyCar is entering a new exciting era,'' Bernard wrote. “Fortunately this brings opportunities with new venues and promoters that are fully aligned with our strategy moving forward. We have chosen to move away from Homestead. We are committed to working with our partners and listening to our fans on what they want.

“We want to partner with tracks that are willing to promote and market IndyCar as we grow our sport.''

Bruton Smith, who owns Speedway Motorsports has been very critical of NASCAR and its placement of its championship weekend in Homestead, will host at least six Indy Car races at his tracks around the country.

Smith owns such notable tracks as Charlotte, Texas, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Bristol.

Smith recently said South Florida had no business hosting the NASCAR and Indy Car final weekends, calling the region “north Cuba,'' trying to sway NASCAR to move its championship race to his track in Vegas.

A spokesman from Homestead Miami refused to comment saying the track would respect the Indy Car process and wait until the full schedule is released.

Helio Castroneves, one of many Indy Car drivers who make South Florida their home, also declined comment until Friday.

"To me, it's a shame,'' Tony Kanaan, who lives in Miami, told the Associated Press. “It's like losing my home race. It's the race all my friends get to see. It's the only race a lot of people here can afford to go see. It's the only opportunity I have to invite people to watch.''

South Florida has had a long relationship with open wheel racing, dating back to CART races held on the streets of downtown Miami. When Homestead Miami was completed in 1995, CART races moved there. In 2001, the IRL moved to Homestead and that race served as the IRL season opener through 2008. The struggling CART series also ran street races in Miami after Homestead had been built.

In 2009, the IRL moved Homestead from first on the schedule until last. That gave Homestead the distinction of being the first track to crown all of North America's major racing champions.

The 2010 Miami Indy 300 will be held in Homestead on Oct. 2.

Homestead began hosting NASCAR's championship weekend in 2003, with the truck series as well as the two stock car champions being crowned. NASCAR recently announced that Homestead would serve as the championship site again in 2011.

-- For those hockey folks still reading, the Panthers are expected to take part in some team-building exercises at the track when Indy Car makes a visit toward the end of training camp.