AVONDALE, La. (AP) — IndyCar racing officials expressed confidence Monday that NOLA Motorsports Park will be able to complete the track improvements it needs to host the proposed Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana in suburban New Orleans next year.
"IndyCar is on the rise and we are determined to be in great markets in this country and eventually throughout the world," IndyCar chief Mark Miles said in an announcement at the track. "We have no doubt this will be one of the great venues for IndyCar racing in very little time."
Gov. Bobby Jindal, joined by officials from the track and Andretti Sports Marketing, said the race is expected to be locked into the IndyCar schedule for "at least three years, though the goal is to make this a permanent event."
Ongoing negotiations include scheduling a weekend for the event, which would also affect the timeline for track improvements that Miles said are needed for "safety, fan enjoyment and quality of racing."
Miles said the IndyCar series is looking at weekends in mid- to late-March and in June, largely because those are periods when New Orleans' robust tourism industry could use a spike in business.
Jindal will need state Legislative approval for $4.5 million, which will be combined with private money to cover marketing expenses and track improvements, including pit area, straight away and perimeter fencing enhancements. Organizers estimated as many as 80,000 spectators for the three-day event, which is slated to include a "racing festival" with live music and races featuring developmental open-wheel racing series such as Indy Lights as well as sports car series.
"This is great news for Jefferson Parish and our entire state," Jindal said. "This three-day event would allow us to show off the excitement of an IndyCar race right here in Louisiana, as well as our state's culture, entertainment and food. This event will be a great economic driver."
The NOLA Motorsports Park, a private, $60 million facility about 14 miles southwest of downtown New Orleans, features a 2.75-mile road course that has already hosted AMA motorcycle racing and Indy Lights, as well as the Pro Mazda and USF2000 series.
The track is owned by Dr. Laney Chouest, whose family founded and operates Edison Chouest Offshore, regarded as one of the world's leading builders and operators of sea vessels specially designed to service the offshore oil and gas industries.
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