By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Major auto racing in the Pacific Northwest may have been cancelled for the year due to COVID-19, but it’ll still be a part of the NTT IndyCar Series’ future.
Both the City of Portland and Green Savoree Portland LLC announced Thursday that the Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway will still be a part of INDYCAR through 2023, guaranteeing there will be more racing out West as this years marks the first time the sport won’t make a single visit in that region since 1946.
Despite the race in Oregon being cancelled, there’s a lot of optimism about extending a deal to host racing in Portland as the 2021 date will be announced at a later time along with the rest of next season’s calendar lineup.
Ever since he went to the Indianapolis 500 as a teenager, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has understood the importance of racing as the past two years brought excellent crowds all throughout Labor Day weekend and feels like the next three years won’t be any different.
“I remember the excitement then and we saw the same energy at the 2018 and 2019 Grand Prix of Portland races,” said Mayor Wheeler. “As the only event of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, the race not only provides tremendous thrills but also contributes $12-$15 million in economic benefits for the city. I’m excited to see this premier race in Portland for at least the next three years.”
Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long also agrees regarding the impact its race has had with the community at the tail end of summer.
“We are very pleased to have ‘Portland’s Fastest Park’, the Portland International Raceway, hosting the Grand Prix of Portland NTT INDYCAR SERIES race for three additional years,” said Long. “The Grand Prix has established itself as a summer tradition as Portlanders enjoy the festival atmosphere, the cars, and camaraderie. We look to 2021 through 2023 with great anticipation.”
Kim Green said he’s thrilled to have made an agreement with the city and parks and recreation organizers on what’s been a tough time for everyone as folks who’ve purchased tickets for the 2020 races will soon receive a direct communication from his promotional company.
“We’re disappointed to not be able to bring IndyCar racing back to the great fans in the Pacific Northwest later this summer, but our team is excited to be back in 2021 and beyond through this continued partnership with the City of Portland and the Portland Parks & Recreation division,” said the co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Racing Promotions. “We appreciate Mayor Wheeler, the commissioners, Director Long, E.C. (Mueller) and the entire PIR team for their ongoing support of the Grand Prix of Portland, and working with us to make the Grand Prix of Portland even better when it returns next year.”
Since returning on the INDYCAR calendar two years ago, Portland has been viewed as a wild card race due to the opening lap mayhem at the “Festival Curve” and excellent pit strategies that saw both Takuma Sato (2018) and Will Power (2019) being victorious.