Fontana dropped from 2016 IndyCar schedule

by Joe Hudson

The Auto Club Speedway in Fontana will not host a round of the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016 as series officials and circuit management couldn’t agree a date and start time for the event.

On the calendar on-and-off since it was on the CART World Series schedule in 1997, the California track was missed out of the IndyCar calendar between 2006 and 2011 before making a comeback as the series finale from 2012 to 2014. 2015 saw the race move to a June slot with the race won by Graham Rahal.

The season finale this year is still in California, but at the Sonoma track at a more convenient time for television.

Known more commonly as the MAVTV 500, the race was known to be problematic with IndyCar officials, especially when it came to live TV times, with the time difference between the West and East coasts of America wreaking havoc with viewing figures for the evening race.

“There was a tremendous amount of effort put forth to keep Auto Club Speedway on the calendar. In the end, we could not identify a compromise for 2016 that was amicable for both parties,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We’re thankful to (Auto Club Speedway President) Dave Allen for his efforts in these negotiations. We mutually agreed that our inability to identify a date for next year doesn’t preclude us revisiting these conversations in the future.”

The announcement comes in a time of real shake-up in the series calendar. As reported by TCF, Road America will be making a comeback in 2016 – something very much welcomed by fans, as well as the Grand Prix of Boston which will take place in the city’s Seaport District.

Those two events are not the only new appearances on the 2016 calendar – the IndyStar reports that the Phoenix International Raceway is looking extremely likely to be holding a race at the start of April. The track’s President Bryan Sperber said the likelihood of a deal was the closest it had been for the last ten years. The Arizona track held IndyCar racing from the glory days of USAC in 1964 all the way to 2005 with America’s premier openwheel series not making an appearance since.

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