INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Grand Prix has been dropped from next season's MotoGP schedule. Don't blame attendance. Blame the expensive logistics for what had become the motorcycle series' only summer race in North America.
Officials from the speedway and Dorna, MotoGP's governing body, announced Friday that they had mutually agreed to drop the race after eight years.
"Bringing MotoGP to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been a tremendously rewarding experience," Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta said in a statement. "While both sides recognize it's the right time to pause this relationship, the door is not closed on future collaborations together should current circumstances change."
The biggest problem was generating U.S. interest in a sport with a distinctly European flavor.
Only one American — 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden — started the August race at Indy and his 2016 plans are uncertain. Series organizers estimated the weekend crowd was up this year, with about 67,000 attending the race with a three-day total of roughly 145,000 — numbers that would probably keep Indianapolis in the top half of the series' most attended events.
"We are proud of our efforts to increase attendance in recent years and successfully host a truly international sporting and cultural event," IMS President Doug Boles said. "We're also thankful to Dorna Sports for its strong support and partnership since 2008. However, the timing is right to pursue other opportunities that drive greater revenue for both the speedway and our central Indiana economy." ''
Coming to America for just one summer race was simply too costly in terms of money and time for many MotoGP teams, according to the officials.
As recently as 2013, three U.S. races were on the schedule. But after leaving Laguna Seca off in 2014 and 2015 and now dropping Indy in 2016, next spring's race in Austin, Texas, is the lone American holdout.
Riders also complained about Indy's road-course surface for the first six years of the event, and speedway officials tried to assuage those concerns when they repaved and reconfigured the track following the 2013 race. The changes received mostly good reviews, and nobody was happier than Spain's Marc Marquez, who this year became the first racer to win four major races at the historic venue — 2014 and 2015 in MotoGP and 2012 and 2013 in Moto2.
Boles said the speedway will now consider adding other races, concerts and perhaps other entertainment events to fill some of next season's open dates.
IndyCar will hold its road race May 14 and the 100th Indianapolis 500 on May 29. NASCAR's Brickyard 400 is scheduled for July 24 and the annual vintage race will be held in mid-June.