The IndyCar race in China on Aug. 19 was officially cancelled Wednesday, and series CEO Randy Bernard must find another event for the second-half of the season.
Bernard had been working with promoters in Qingdao the last several months to salvage the race, which was announced last November to run at the same time as the International Beer Festival. The inaugural race would have been held on a temporary 3.87-mile street circuit in the city that hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics sailing competition.
Despite an existing contract, new leadership in local government balked at the IndyCar race. Discussions began with IndyCar about moving the event to a new date or new location.
When faced with a deadline, Bernard said Wednesday event promoters canceled the race.
"The new Mayor took office on March 28, and it was his opinion that it shouldn't be run at the same time as the beer festival," Bernard told The Associated Press. "Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time at that point to reschedule or find a new location. We evaluated several different options and it was finally in the promoters' best interest to cancel the event."
Bernard said IndyCar is evaluating what it can recoup from the existing contract.
As for what Bernard will do to fill the hole in the IndyCar schedule, he said he's looking at several different options.
"I don't think we need a decision right this minute," he said. "When we do it, we need to do it right and make sure it's the best fit for the series and the schedule and the championship race."
He did not reveal what he's considering, but there's speculation IndyCar could pick up Pocono Raceway or an Oct. 7 second stop at Texas Motor Speedway.
There are other intriguing venues that Bernard can't negotiate with just yet because they are located in non-compete mileage restrictions with existing IndyCar venues. For example, if Bernard was interested in a return to Elkhart Lake, he could not speak to those promoters until after this weekend's race at Milwaukee.
Bernard also indicated that the Sept. 15 race at Fontana may not be the season finale. The race picked up that slot when Las Vegas was cancelled following Dan Wheldon's fatal accident at that track, but Bernard may need to schedule something after Fontana as a replacement for China.
The cancellation of China marks the first time in 10 years IndyCar won't race in Asia. The series spent nine years at the Twin Ring Motegi Superspeedway in Motegi City, Japan. But that contract ended, and IndyCar eyed China as its fourth international venue in 2012.
The series has already raced in Sao Paulo, and has scheduled stops this season in Toronto and Edmonton.