By A.J. Foyt
The return of the IZOD IndyCar Series to the Milwaukee Mile is one that could be considered a qualified success for our ABC Supply team and Michael Andretti, whose sports marketing team took on the promotion of the race in February.
I was glad to hear that the race would return because it has a lot of tradition which I think is important for the IndyCar Series to continue even as they try new things. One of my favorite things about the old Milwaukee races was that they were held during Fair week.
Not quite the Wisconsin State Fair but the infield was turned from a parking lot into a local county fair. There were lots of rides for the kids including a Ferris wheel! I hadn’t seen that since 1979 when the Indy car races ran with the Wisconsin State Fair. Back then I use to run the Indy car race and the USAC stock car races the same week. And we’d walk around the fair too. It was a lot of fun.
While the Indy cars can’t run with the fair anymore—we have too much equipment with the teams, the hospitality and the TV production—I thought it was pretty cool that Andretti Sports Marketing tried to give the race that kind of atmosphere. The turnout was pretty good too—22,000. Back in the old days that might have been considered a sellout because the grandstands were much smaller than the 45,000-seat one built 10 years ago.
It was a good enough turnout (despite a rainstorm that day) that Andretti said the race will be back next year on Father’s Day weekend. With a whole year to promote instead of just three months, we could easily see a sellout crowd. It’s good news for our team because our sponsor ABC Supply is located in Beloit, less than an hour southwest of the track. They always have a big hospitality event at The Mile--this year there were nearly 800 ABC Supply guests.