Indy Racing League CEO Randy Bernard says that while he's looking to expand the circuit in a hurry, the immediate plan is to stand pat in Canada.
"Right now, we're focused on the two races we already have in Edmonton and Toronto because there's a tremendous amount of potential there," he said. "They're both on the rise."
Bernard, in Toronto to promote the July 10 event, said they haven't closed the door on new races in Canada.
He said he will sit down after the season with Montreal-based Octane Management, which is running the July 24 Edmonton Indy.
"After they produce this first race with us, see, we'll gauge their interest about going into another market," he said.
There are 17 races on the IndyCar circuit this year — 18 if you count the twin race event in Texas on June 11.
Bernard said talks are ongoing to add a second race in Brazil, go to China, and to lock up races at Chicagoland and Fontana, Calif.
"I definitely want to be at 22 [races]," he said. "The only question is how quickly will television let me grow that fast.
"If I could get television in place, I would do it next year. It's essential for our sport, our team owners and our sponsors."
Canada may be a good stop for Bernard, given that he's also currently trying to reconcile his own two solitudes: traditional gearheads demanding more oval circuits versus younger crowds and big-ticket sponsors in the bigger cities who enjoy the spectacle of street and road-course racing.
Right now, the balance is tipped in favour of street and road courses. Driver Danica Patrick has been vocal in her opposition, making it clear she's much happier whipping around a superspeedway oval than turning left and right and gearing up and down on a road course.
It's believed to be one of the reasons why Patrick — the biggest name in IndyCar — is expected to make a full-time jump to the NASCAR circuit next season.
Bernard said, if it happens, they'll weather the storm, adding he's more concerned about losing Patrick's title sponsor Go Daddy than with Patrick herself.
"Danica has been a great ambassador, but I think it's duly important to talk about Go Daddy," he said, referring to the international domain registrar and web hosting service known mainly for racy TV ads during the Super Bowl.
"Without Go Daddy, I'm not sure Danica is who she is. I think Go Daddy has been able to develop so much interest and exposure and built her brand because of the Super Bowl ads and the millions they've spent promoting her."
He said IndyCar isn't going back to the oval days.
"A balanced series gives us our true definition of our racing — the fastest, most versatile race car drivers in the world.
It's also about sponsorship money, the oil that keeps the IndyCar engine running.
"On ovals, we'll reach a 70 per cent crossover with a NASCAR audience," he said. "But when we go to road and street courses we play to a much more international, much more urban audience."
He said IndyCar fills a niche between F1 and NASCAR.
"I can tell you right now there's not one F1 driver in the world that wants to come over here and get on an oval — it's too dangerous. Our drivers are more adrenalin junkies than an F1 driver.
"And when you compare us to a NASCAR, our cars are going to go 40 to 50 miles per hour faster, whether it's a road course or an oval."
He said the future looks promising with double-digit hikes in on-track and TV attendance.
He said IndyCar continues discussing a new TV deal with ABC. The negotiating window for a new deal expires this week, but Bernard says he's extended it by a couple of weeks.
"We're making progress. They [ABC] have been a very good partner of ours, they have been producing the Indy 500 for 47 years."
"It's good faith. I want to make sure we're doing everything we can to give them the time they need and we need."
ABC is televising five of the 17 events this year, including the flagship Indy 500, while Versus handles the rest.
'A complete screw-up on my part'
Bernard was brought in a year and a half ago after helping transform the Professional Bull Riders circuit from a fledgling one-office outfit into a multimillion-dollar entertainment colossus.
There has been a flurry of changes, the main one being a new car and deals with Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus for 2012.
To boost fan interest, Bernard has instituted double-file restarts and split the recent Texas race. The final event of the year at Las Vegas will see five "outsider" drivers try to take the race and win a $5-million bonus.
The challenge is to bridge a sport that has stratospheric highs and sub-sea-level lows. About 375,000 took in the Indy 500 in May, he said, followed by 15,000 and a lot of empty chairs at Milwaukee less than two weeks ago.
Milwaukee, he said, was a one-off, and a testament to his steep learning curve.
"That's a complete screw-up on my part," Bernard said, noting Milwaukee is a storied old track and he fast-tracked a return.
"I jumped at the first promoter that was willing to take the race and it put a black eye on our sport. If I ran the board, I'd have wanted my job after that.
"That's how disappointed I was. I couldn't sleep for a week."
"In Milwaukee, we have a tremendous amount of fans there. But I believe it's one of those races that's going to take a great promoter to make it work."