Randy Bernard has confirmed four international IndyCar race dates for 2012, including a new event on a 3.87-mile street circuit in Qingdao, China.
Qingdao, a city of 8.7 million people located on the Yellow Sea coast between Beijing and Shanghai, hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics sailing competition. Series boss Bernard has also confirmed that IndyCar will continue to race on street circuits in São Paulo (below) and Toronto and at Edmonton’s airport course. A second street race in Brazil is believed to be on the cards.
IndyCar’s first race in China will take place on August 19, coinciding with the Qingdao International Beer Festival. It’s said that the promoters’ long-term goal is to build a permanent race circuit somewhere in the city.
“Last year at our sponsorship summit, China was the number one place that our sponsors wanted to go to outside the United States,” said Bernard. “We are very excited and truly grateful for the full support of the Chinese government, Qingdao City government and related government bureaus in providing the opportunity to bring the IZOD IndyCar Series to China. We are committed to doing our part in making this a fantastic event to be seen on the world stage.”
IndyCar announced that its 2012 season will begin on the streets of St Petersburg, Florida on March 25 and that previously announced races at Belle Isle in Detroit and the California Speedway will take place on June 3 and the evening of September 15 respectively. Next year’s Indianapolis 500 will be held on May 27, with Pole Day on May 19.
The belief is that 2.0-mile ovals like the California Speedway are more manageable than 1.5-mile ovals such as Las Vegas and Texas, because there’s more room on the track and the radius of the turns is less severe. But Bernard is facing strong opposition from IndyCar’s drivers about continuing to race on high-banked 1.5-mile ovals in the wake of Dan Wheldon’s accident, so it will be interesting to see the final make-up of the 2012 schedule. The race in China confirms IndyCar’s inexorable slide toward running on more and more street and road courses.