MILWAUKEE -- The IndyCar race at the Milwaukee Mile used to be one of the biggest events of the summer in Milwaukee. Now, one of the biggest names in the sport is trying to bring the event - coming up on Father's Day Weekend, June 15th and 16th - back to prominence.
Tepid fan and corporate support the last few years put the IndyCar race at the Milwaukee Mile on life support, until Michael Andretti's marketing company took over to stage Milwaukee's IndyFest at the Mile on Father's Day Weekend.
"There's two things that are a real incentive. One is - I love the place. I love the track. I think the drivers love the track. Number two is - I think it's very important for our series to keep this race on the schedule," Andretti said.
Many drivers took the time during the week between the Indy 500 and the race in Detroit to come to Milwaukee to test. They are pleased that Andretti is giving Milwaukee another chance.
"After we announced it, I was shocked by how many drivers called to offer their support and say 'whatever you need, we're behind you,'" Andretti said.
Andretti left a lot of guys behind him during his racing career -- the son of the legendary Mario Andretti and the father of current driver Marco Andretti, Michael won 42 times himself in championship cars. Five of those wins were in Milwaukee.
"There's tons and tons of tradition with IndyCar and with our family as well. I think I had my first pole here. I know Marco had his first pole here. My dad has had poles here. We've done a lot of races here. There was an all-Andretti podium here one year, in 1991, so we've done a lot of things here as a family," Andretti said.
It may be the most visible name in open wheel racing, and it will certainly be the most visible name during the Milwaukee IndyFest. There's a lot of pride in the Andretti name for those who carry it.
"It's not something that's ever even really been spoken. It's not something that we've had to talk about. I think it's just our own pride in what dad started and what we've been able to keep going,"
Now, Michael Andretti wants to keep racing going at the Milwaukee Mile and ultimately get it back to what it once was.