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2007 U.S. Grand Prix gets the green flag

Formula 1 is returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007. A one-year extension to the current deal with Formula One Management was signed Thursday by the Speedway's CEO, Tony George (shown at this year's GP at right).
The current contract between the Speedway and Bernie Ecclestone's FOM expired in July after this year's race, and George chose to cut a one year extension to the deal rather than negotiate a longer-term contract, saying that he wanted to wait and see how the sport developed after the expiration of the current Concorde Agreement at the end of 2007. There is no doubt that there will be big changes to the sport in 2008, and it's not surprising that George has adopted a wait-and-see attitude. George took pains to point out that he fully expects to be with Formula 1 for the long term, which makes sense given the enormous investment he made in modifying the track to accomodate the USGP.

Speedway president Joie Chitwood made clear the track's long-term interest saying, "Though this contract is for only one year, it is still our goal to make the Speedway the longtime home of the United States Grand Prix."

An interesting fact: The Indianapolis Star reports that of the three races at the Brickyard (the Indy 500, the NASCAR Allstate 400, and the USGP), the GP has the biggest impact on the local economy, because a larger percentage of F1 fans come from out of town (and spend more), and because the F1 circus itself is a high-rolling group. The total value of the GP to the economy is estimated to be more than $100 million.

The 2007 USGP is scheduled for June 17. Ticket information will be announced soon.

[Sources: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, The Indianapolis Star]

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