INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — IndyCar officials found a popular replacement for its canceled race in Boston, announcing Friday it would return to Watkins Glen International in New York for Labor Day weekend.
The race is set for Sept. 4, the same day Boston was scheduled, and will be the 15th event on the 16-race schedule. Watkins Glen joins Phoenix and Road America in venues that returned to the IndyCar schedule this season.
Some details — such as what to do with those who holding tickets to the Boston race — are still being worked out. But at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the announcement was cheered.
"I think it's a great move," team owner Roger Penske said. "If we couldn't go to Boston, this is the next best thing and the fact they announced it (the cancellation) so early and that they were able to recover that quickly, I think they did a great job."
The track in upstate New York has hosted nine CART or IndyCar races, from 1979 through 1981 and from 2005 through 2010. The first two were run on the 2.4-mile short course and were both won by Bobby Unser. The race moved to the 3.4-mile long course in 1981, when Rick Mears won. When IndyCar returned in 2005, reigning series champion Scott Dixon reeled off three consecutive victories.
Dixon said Friday he enjoys racing on old-school tracks such as Watkins Glen, and he's not alone.
"It's fun to race there, it's a beautiful area," Graham Rahal said. "IndyCar fans are very loyal and they love tracks like this, so it will be fun. Hopefully we'll get a better crowd than we had the last time we were there. I'm looking forward to it."
Boston was scheduled to host a race on the city's streets, and IndyCar had touted the weekend as an opportunity to showcase its event in front of a new audience that would include many college students. Eventually the concerns of some local residents about traffic congestion and demands from city and state officials forced race organizers to call of the race on April 29.
The announcement set off a scramble to find a replacement. Boston was the only race scheduled to be run between Aug. 21 at Pocono and the season finale Sept. 18 at Sonoma, and series officials needed to find a venue that could host an event on short notice. IndyCar had been looking at other venues, including St. Louis, before Friday's announcement.
Watkins Glen President Michael Printup noted that one piece of IndyCar's original plan could still be salvaged because that part of New York also has colleges nearby.
"This wasn't just about replacing that event," said Jay Frye, IndyCar's president of competition and operations. "This was about replacing it with the right event."
Printup also praised New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for helping put together the deal with IndyCar in just two weeks.
"The fact that we could put this deal together so quickly shows how motivated each party was to make this happen for the fans and the competitors," he said.
It's not the first time IndyCar has dealt with an abrupt schedule change.
A race in China was canceled in June 2012, just two months before it was scheduled to be run. And last year's season opener in Brazil was canceled in late January, six weeks before the original March 8 run date. Losing Boston, on Labor Day weekend, might be a tougher financial blow given the investment the series made in the event, which it wanted to run on the final open Sunday before the NFL season begins.
Frye kept the door open to going to Boston in the future.
"Is it over for good? I would say, maybe not," Frye said. "There might be some other options there that would make it simpler to go back there."