Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Auto Club Speedway's President Gillian Zucker Talks All Things ACS

Auto Club Speedway’s President Gillian Zucker shares a moment with Penske Racing’s Helio Castroneves during a media PR stop with the LA Galaxy at StubHub Center, Carson, California. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

Auto Club Speedway's President Gillian Zucker Talks All Things ACS

For those of you who may not be familiar with folks who run and manage racetrack venues, Auto Club Speedway President Gillian Zucker is the first female president of a track that hosts auto racing’s most popular event, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and was recently named by FOX Sports and MSN as one of the top five most powerful women in motorsports.

The Verizon IndyCar Series will be holding their third championship season ending, double points paying, 500 mile race at Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, with the MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships - this coming weekend, ending at night, under the lights, Saturday, August 30.

Gillian Zucker, Welcome ...

Gillian Zucker, Auto Club Speedway with IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves and players from LA Galaxy promote the MAVTV 500, August 30, 2014. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)


1) First off, what training and background does one have to have to become a person to occupy a position as president of a major racing facility? What road did you travel to get at this point?

2) Just what was the interest in this challenge - are you a fan? a good business manager, both?

3) In this economic climate ... what are the challenges to drawing fans from the greater Los Angeles/Orange County basin for NASCAR and IndyCar?

4) There are other forms of racing held at Auto Club Speedway - for example, most people seem to think the only drag-racing that takes place in the greater Los Angeles/Orange County basin is another Auto Club sponsored facility in Pomona, but there are actually a couple more ... and Auto Club Speedway is one. Please tell us more about the drag-racing program at Auto Club Speedway's Auto Club Dragway - how professional is the activity?

5) Another program at Auto Club Speedway is a bit more fan interactive - Exotics Racing gives one the opportunity to drive their choice of exotic super cars on a race track with 1-on-1 coaching from driving instructors! How has the Ëxotics Racing¨venture worked out so far?

6) The facility at Auto Club Speedway has a large infield, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the Indy 500 is held, has successfully transformed its infield into a very compelling road course race track reminiscent of the layout pace found at the track in Portland Oregon ... is Auto Club Speedway planning on attracting professional sport-car racing through a road course addition as IMS has done?

7) The IndyCar competitors resoundingly enjoy testing and racing at Auto Club Speedway but for 2015, the series management is considering different options for a venue to hold the season finale ... given the banter in the broadcast booth during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma -

Do you see the Verizon IndyCar Series remaining on the calendar as the season finale? ... or any date, for the foreseeable future?

8) Lastly, what do fans need to be on the look out for while attending MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships - this coming weekend?


... notes from The EDJE

Post Script:
This was written by Tony DiZinno at NBC Sports Network - Aug 27, 2014, 1:23 AM EDT - about the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season schedule where ACS President Gillian Zucker states what she said in the interview above at ... notes from The EDJE:

Lastly we come to Fontana, to come full circle from where this post began nearly 900 words ago. Frankly, and despite a strong and committed level of promotion from Auto Club Speedway, ISC, and track president Gillian Zucker, INDYCAR has done ACS zero favors in terms of a consistent date for date equity since its return to the calendar after a seven-year absence.

Yeah, it’s been the last date of the season for three years. But that last date has been September 15, 2012, October 19, 2013 and now August 30, 2014 in three consecutive seasons. How can most locals know when the race is if it changes on them three straight years?

This year, Zucker has justifiably spoken out, confirming to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin that a Labor Day date – one Miles has held firm the IndyCar Series needs to end by – won’t work for the track. It’s going to be a challenge because the NBCSN race telecast doesn’t start until 9 p.m. ET Saturday night, with the race scheduled to start at 7:20 p.m. local time (10:20 p.m. ET).

So suddenly one of the big things we have to watch this weekend is how Fontana deals with the date, and what could happen about its date changing again for the following season.

Essentially, here’s where we’re at for the IndyCar 2015 schedule.

Confirmed dates, as announced either by the track or series include:

March 16-17, Barber open test, March 29, St. Petersburg, April 19, Long Beach, May 9, Grand Prix of Indianapolis, May 16-17, Indianapolis 500 Qualifying, May 24, Indianapolis 500, May 30-31, Detroit Belle Isle, June 6, Texas Motor Speedway

Likely dates, based on projections and similar weekends as in 2014:

June 20, Iowa, August 2, Mid-Ohio, August 23, Milwaukee, August 30, Sonoma

Question marks, where the date or venue could change:

Barber (should be either side of Long Beach in April), Houston (currently last weekend in June, not yet confirmed for same date in 2015), Pocono (possible from either last weekend in June through second weekend in July), Toronto (as mentioned above, neither venue nor date is confirmed), Fontana (date TBD; we’ll see how this week shakes out)

Wild cards, either new venues and/or the proposed international races:

Canada’s date du jour. Assume the Canadian Grand Prix occurs June 7, and with IndyCar at Texas June 6, that potential Toronto-Montreal date conflict is averted. Either late June or one of the July weekends could work for a CTMP, Mont-Tremblant or other random Canadian venue date. Toronto’s streets could work June 13, potentially, but that seems a likely off weekend.

New Orleans is possible for 2015 – Michael Andretti’s group seemed keen on it happening next year during his Milwaukee pre-race media availability.

The two locations mooted for the spring international races, likely in February or early March, are Dubai and Brazil. Details on those would need to be forthcoming, but they wouldn’t feature the new-for-2015 aero kits as they’re not delivered to teams until March 1. Of course, we’ve been down the “international race” path before without it actually going anywhere.

Road America. As mentioned above, unlikely for 2015, but we can dream, right?

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