A local organizing committee (LOC) for the Grand Prix of Houston announced Thursday its intentions of reviving the event at a press conference from the Houston Auto Show at Reliant Park. The committee, spearheaded by local businessman George DeMontrond, hopes to bring back the annual race for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series calendar.
The Grand Prix of Houston was last held during the 2007 season at Reliant Park, which also hosted the 2006 edition of the race. Before that, the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston was held in the streets of downtown from 1998 to 2001. DeMontrond and peeps hope to resurrect the event at Reliant Park, instead of downtown Houston.
"Well, I think that this is a lot more conducive to setting up kind of a semipermanent venue," LOC chairman DeMontrond said in an interview with Hair Balls. "With some of the stuff they would be doing here, it would be a lot less setup time. There were a number of problems downtown, with closures of streets and different things like that that were avoided with having it [at Reliant Park]."
The LOC has the backing of several key political players to assure the IZOD IndyCar series that Houston is serious about hosting the race for many years to come. Said Houston Mayor Annise Parker, "This will be supported by Houstonians of all walks of life; it will be supported by officials across this great county and region, and we as business leaders of the city of Houston will make it happen. We know how to welcome international visitors, and I know that motorsports is not just something that strikes the imagination of Americans -- but in a booming, cosmopolitan, international city like Houston -- we are a perfect gateway for the international exposure, attention and, yes, the guests that would come to be part of this event as well."
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IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard did say that Houston was in competition with ten other national and international cities to host one of two new courses for the 2012 season.
Bernard did point out that the last time they were in town, the league was divided -- as the league was known as CHAMP Car World Series in 2007 (hence the absence of Danica Patrick). If the Grand Prix of Houston were to be resurrected, it would be the reunified IndyCar Series with all of the sport's big-name drivers (I just hope to see Danica next year).
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, who also has the LOC's back, is a big racing enthusiast, so much so that he had a poster of Steve McQueen from Le Mans in the bedroom of his first apartment AFTER he graduated college. "To have an event like this come to Reliant Park would be a dream come true. And I don't know, maybe my wife will let me put that poster back up."
You do that, Ed.