Indy Speedway CEO meets with Ecclestone, optimistic about Grand Prix future

Updated: June 18, 2007, 1:37 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Tony George and Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone met again Saturday without reaching an agreement to extend the contract of the U.S. Grand Prix at Indy.

After a 25-minute session inside Ecclestone's trackside office, George emerged optimistic about a deal -- just not this weekend. Speedway officials hope to have one by July 12.

"I'm confident it's going to happen, but it's not done yet," George said.

When was asked whether that meant there was an agreement in principle, George responded: "No, I think we agree on all the things that have to come together."

Ecclestone has repeatedly said F1 does not need to race in the United States and has mentioned the possibility of moving the U.S. Grand Prix to another city, such as New York or Las Vegas.

On Saturday, Ecclestone tried another ploy to gain leverage. He told a local television station he doesn't have to listen to the manufacturers who want to race in the U.S. nor does he believe the Indianapolis race has been promoted properly since Indianapolis 500 signs are still displayed around the city. The 500 was run May 28.

George acknowledged race officials could do more but stopped short of taking the blame or saying Ecclestone was posturing.

"We don't control all the factors that go into the public perception of this event," George said. "I think everyone knows the challenges we have faced since it's been here."

In 2002, Michael Schumacher let teammate Rubens Barrichello win. Most considered that payback for a race earlier in the year when Barrichello was told to park his car on the course and let Schumacher go past.

Just before the start of the race in 2005, safety concerns with Michelin tires prompted 14 of 20 drivers to pull off the road course

Still, the U.S. Grand Prix has consistently been one of the biggest draws on F1 circuit since it arrived in Indianapolis in 2000, consistently attracting crowds of about 125,000.

"We have to do the right thing for us," George said. "The right thing might be a decision not to go on, but that's not what either of our preferences are."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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