Fort Worth—At the Snooty Pig in Fort Worth, manager Buddy Yeary says the place was packed a couple of weekends ago because of the neighbor to the north, Texas Motor Speedway.
"The whole restaurant was full on race weekend. We actually had a line out the door."
It was a Nascar race, but Indy car weekend is also a big economic boost. Officials estimate thet Indy Racing weekend pumps about $30 million into the North Texas economy each year, when it draws thousands of tourists to the area from all over the world.
But, for the first time in more than a decade, that is in jeopardy.
"Where we go down the road together remains to be seen," Texas Motor Speedway President and General Manager, Eddie Gossage, said.
Gossage says Indy car has been a big part of TMS since day one, with some of the biggest moments in Indy car's racing history happening at the track. The recent and tragic death of popular racer, Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October has put negotiations on hold. The league is still investigating the accident and because of that no deal has been signed with TMS to bring racing back to North Texas.
Gossage says several drivers have raised safety questions about whether oval tracks like TMS and the one in Las Vegas are safe for Indy-style racing.
"We ran two Indy car races in 2011 and we had only one caution flag in those two races. We have a fast track, but not the fastest."
Gossage says cars run faster on the Las Vegas track by about 15 mph. He believes the safety issues may be motivated more out of a desire for a competitive edge, than over safety concerns. He hopes the issues don't destroy what is a popular North Texas tradition.
"This draws a big crowd. People come from all over the world to see Indy cars in Texas."
But, time is running out. Gossage says the track needs an adequate amount of time to promote and sell a big race. Season tickets are on sale right now. He also adds that when the Indy season returns, if it does, there will be a newly-styled, safer car, named in memory of Wheldon.