New buzz around IndyCar Series and a new oval on the way

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The IndyCar Series has had a pretty bumpy ride over the last few years with a dwindling fan base, low TV ratings, the death of rising star Dan Wheldon and more recently, a management fiasco.  But IndyCar may be turning the corner.

“We’re in a good place looking forward to 2013,” said IndyCar CEO Jeff Belskus.

There’s a new buzz around IndyCar now, starting with team owner Roger Penske offering Tony “Smoke” Stewart a ride in next year’s Indy 500.

“It’s a great buzz and of course when you get someone like Roger Penske offering someone a ride it gets a lot of people’s attention,” said Belskus.

Other popular drivers like Danica Patrick may end up with a ride at Indy as well. Then there’s the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown Challenge, a driver gets $1 million for winning the Indy 500 and two other big races. Plus, there’s a new DreamWorks animated movie due out this summer called “Turbo” that could rival the movie “Cars.”

“That (the movie) will feature IndyCar racing and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Belskus said.

Adding to the buzz is a Carmel architect who is designing a new oval in Canada that would bring in another big fan base for IndyCar. The new state-of-the-art track will have jumbo-trons, party pavilions and concert venues.  The project will cost about $400 million.  Architect Paxton Waters said the new oval is designed to bring fans closer to the action and the drivers.

“There’s a lot of changes going on,” Waters said. “It’s a strong sport but I think it’s got to be on ovals and we need more American drivers.”

And, he said, IndyCar needs this buzz to continue.

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