MADISON, Ill. - Long before the August 26th Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park was announced in January, track owner and former racer Curtis Francois saw an opportunity.
“Both of us were in a transition phase. We were growing. IndyCar was transitioning to new leadership and so the conversation started several years ago,” said Francois.
Francois said Bommarito Automotive Group President John Bommarito soon entered the discussion.
“What else do you need? What’s the end goal? Talked to Curtis some more and he said Indy is the next goal,” Bommarito said.
Bommarito VP and life-long IndyCar fan Chuck Wallis joined in.
“I said to John, 'This is something we have to put the Bommarito name on,'” Wallis said.
“The more we got involved with Gateway, the more we got to figure out their long-term strategy," Bommarito said.
Soon they were firing on all cylinders.
“You know, I think it was the perfect marriage,” Francois said.
“There’s no doubt the timing was right," Wallis added.
Over the last several months the Bommarito and Gateway team have traveled the IndyCar circuit examining the best ways to provide local race fans an experience they won’t forget.
“When you go into these towns and you see what they’ve done with racing in some of these communities and how hyped up they get, you get addicted to it,” said Bommarito.
“If you look at Indianapolis, they’ve been doing races there for 100 years. Their Speed Week Festival has been going on for 40 years. We’re taking and mimicking some of those aspects and putting a St.Louis flair, a St.Louis touch to those aspects," added Francois.
The IndyCar circuit has taken notice.
“The support of the owner of the track and Bommarito Automotive group has been fantastic," said IndyCar executive Mark Miles.
“It’s exciting for us to see the commitment Curtis and the entire facility is putting into Gateway,” said racer Graham Rahal.
But it’s racing legend Roger Penske’s seal of approval that bodes well as the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 draws near.
“I think the commitment by the ownership and the community there, certainly big businesses there behind the track is terrific. We’re looking forward to being there. It’s going to be great," said Penske.
Team Penske drivers currently hold four of the top five spots in the IndyCar standings.
For ticket information on the Bommarito Automotive Group 500, visit MetroTix.com.