An IndyCar race could be coming to Providence in 2015. Image from Wikimedia Commons.
By Kim Kalunian, WPRO News
Providence is once again being eyed for an IndyCar race.
After plans fell through to bring the high-throttle road race to the capital city this year, industry reports say Rhode Island is looking solid for 2015.
“We’ve been working on it for a couple of years,” Mark Perrone, the general manager of New England Grand Prix, the promotions group for the potential race, told WPRO.
Perrone said he has been working closely with city and state officials like Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, Governor Lincoln Chafee and Jim Bennett, Providence’s Director of Economic Development.
“We were very happy with the engagement of Providence,” said Perrone.
When asked about plans for 2015, Taveras’s spokesman, David Ortiz said, “Economic Development Director Jim Bennett has been in conversations with IndyCar but there is no agreement in place to bring the event to Providence.”
The city’s economic development office declined further comment.
But Perrone said they’re just “crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s” and plan to make a formal announcement of 2015 locations in just a few months.
“We think we’re pretty much there,” he said.
Perrone said the plan is to have the race in Providence Aug. 7-9 of 2015 – the weekend of Victory Day.
Cars would race on a 2.1 mile circuit with 11 turns. The finish line would be at the State House on Smith Hill (the notorious raised crosswalk would be removed).
“[It] showcases the backdrop of Providence,” said Perrone of the planned route.
Perrone said the three-day event would likely draw nearly 180,000 spectators. It would be televised to 270 countries worldwide on networks like ESPN and NBC Sports.
“It’ll be great for merchants and restaurants,” he said.
Although city officials seemed enthusiastic about IndyCar in 2012, plans to bring a race to Providence in 2013 fell through. This time around Perrone said things are looking more solid.
“I think we were trying to rush a lot of things,” he said. “We were trying to put a round peg in a square hole.”
Perrone, who formerly worked for Champ Car World Series and Milwaulke Mile, said road races typically take five years to plan.
Perrone said 2015 is a good time for Providence to join the IndyCar circuit, especially because of the disappearance of the Grand Prix of Baltimore in 2014-15, which was announced in September.
“The northeast market is some place they want to be, especially now,” said Perrone of IndyCar. “[Providence] will be the only presence from St. Petersberg to Toronto on the east coast.”
Perrone said they had looked at other New England cities like Boston, but Providence had a warmer reception.
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