All Blog Participation Post on the IndyCar Schedule


So are you fans and fellow writers upset with the current IndyCar Schedule? Well, I know a few of them that want to change things and I am going to share some of those ideas with posts that they did showing there anger and ideas for the future.

Chris Leone from Open Wheel America wrote about his idea of the IndyCar Series called “Project Glamour” (orginally wrote on February, 25, 2011)

So after last week’s not-so-sensical dream experience in the Sebring paddock, followed by some necessary sick and school time, it’s time for me to wake up and write something with a little substance, eh? Of course, we have a little business to take care of first – until right about now, it didn’t occur to me that I should probably explain what last Friday’s post was, or what it was introducing.

Project Glamour, for lack of a better codename, is Open Wheel America’s plan to perfect IndyCar. Its name comes in reference to the schedule depicted in last week’s post, which was essentially a series of all “glamour” races – each a “crown jewel,” so to speak, in their own right. The series was flourishing under the steady hand of a smart leader who was in complete control, and everything was going just fine.

Now, to even consider throwing together a series like that is downright impossible, especially in this economic climate. And it’s not as if Randy Bernard is a slouch – the man has almost single-handedly revitalized and rejuvenated the sport, and even if it’s not all him working his magic, he certainly provides a trustworthy (and convenient) face to which we can attribute everything. From the initial IZOD deal to this week’s Vegas announcement, IndyCar’s a lot better off than it was two years ago.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t step it up even further.

The backbone to a strong racing series is a strong schedule. I’m going to be honest with you – I don’t really think it matters what kind of car competes in a racing series. If the schedule matters enough, the people will come, even if the equipment is outdated or has been altered radically. Did people stop coming to Indy when the rear-engined cars made their debut? How about in the early days of the Indy Racing League, when its teams adopted old (1996) and slower (1997 on) equipment to that in CART? The answer is no.

Perhaps this train of thought also comes from the fact that we’re about to introduce a new car to the sport, and because that sort of thing is already being taken care of by Tony Cotman, I need not worry about it. Well, I suppose that argument has some merit. Then again, we’ve been running the same car for nearly a decade at Indy now, and it hasn’t stopped people from showing up (even if some figures have declined a bit in recent years).

Anyways, onto the good stuff – creating a decent and sensible schedule that retains the series’ best tracks and replaces the less exciting racing with some traditionally exciting events. The first big idea here, which has been suggested in the past by plenty of folks, is the establishment of a “triple crown” of 500-mile oval races. I want to see Indianapolis, Michigan, and Auto Club (California), and I want each to be run on a holiday weekend – Indianapolis near Memorial Day as always, Michigan near Independence Day (it used to be the U.S. 500, after all), and Auto Club near Columbus Day (to replace the failed NASCAR Chase event). Each gets at least one off week before it so teams can prepare. Any driver who can win all three gets a substantial bonus. With the three oval pillars of the schedule established, we can move on to the rest of the schedule.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I was a Champ Car guy pre-merger, and longtime readers probably know that, so don’t be surprised when my schedule gets a little road course-heavy to compensate for the three big oval events. First and foremost, the street course events at Long Beach, Sao Paulo, St. Petersburg, Baltimore, and Toronto stay on the schedule, but the road course events could use a little tweaking. The sport is long overdue for returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (especially in light of Mazda’s commitment to the Road to Indy) and Road America, as well as the street events at Cleveland and Surfers’ Paradise (the latter as an all-star event for winners at the end of the season – something I’ve suggested before).

But wait, there’s more: I want to pair up with the American Le Mans Series at Sebring for the start of the season. Not only does it shorten a criminally long offseason (six months is a long time) by a couple of weeks, it offers IndyCar an opportunity to strengthen its relationship with the ALMS, which shares a handful of events with the sport and is not the NASCAR-owned Rolex Sports Car Series. Usually, the sports cars support the IndyCars; this time around, Indy can race first, and if the driver who wins the Indy race also wins the 12 Hours of Sebring, they can get another cash bonus awarded by the higher-ups in both series.

That’s 12 events – nine road course races (eight for points) and three big ovals. Clearly, we’re not done yet.

This is where we scratch Bruton Smith’s back for being a friend to the sport as of late, adding events in Las Vegas and New Hampshire to an existing Kentucky race and employing promoter extraordinaire Eddie Gossage down in Texas, where they’ll run a doubleheader event this year and perhaps forevermore. I’m keeping all of them, plus the races in Milwaukee and Iowa. Sorry, ISC folks – you want to pull all of your tracks from the schedule, I’m going to scratch the back of your biggest rival.

The lone ISC track that I’d like to appear on the schedule is Watkins Glen, and I’ll admit that those reasons are a bit sentimental – I attended that race the past two years and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, plus it made for a strong northeast presence. If that’s impossible, though – and I wouldn’t be shocked if it was – there are other options; in fact, since I just vouched for a return to Cleveland, and there’s an oval event in Loudon, perhaps we can stick with the north and not necessarily the east, and save Edmonton yet again. This puts us at a total of 21 events: the three “crown jewels,” seven smaller oval races (remember, Texas counts twice), eight street races (including the all-star race at the end of the season in Surfers), and three pure road course events.

We can even maintain a lot of the structure of the current schedule. St. Petersburg would come directly after Sebring, followed by Long Beach and Sao Paulo. Indianapolis gets the month of May all to itself again, followed by a busy June in Texas, Milwaukee, and Iowa. Next up is the July 4 weekend at Michigan, followed by another road course block at Toronto, Cleveland, Road America, and Edmonton. Throw in a quick East Coast return to Loudon and Baltimore, and stopovers in Kentucky and Laguna Seca before the Auto Club race. The season ends in earnest in Vegas, baby, before the all-star event down under. You follow?

Okay, let’s spell that out in a handy chart instead – it might be easier to follow. For the sake of argument, I’ll use actual 2012 dates to plan out this schedule. All dates are Sundays unless otherwise noted.

  • March 17: Mobil 1 Grand Prix of Sebring (Saturday day race preceding 12 Hours of Sebring on Sunday)
  • April 1: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
  • April 15: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
  • April 29: Sao Paulo Indy 300
  • May 27: Indianapolis 500
  • June 2: Firestone Twin 275s, Texas Motor Speedway (Saturday day race)
  • June 2: Firestone Twin 275s, Texas Motor Speedway (Saturday night race)
  • June 10: Milwaukee Indy 225
  • June 17: Iowa Corn Indy 250
  • July 1: U.S. 500, Michigan International Speedway
  • July 8: Honda Indy Toronto
  • July 15: Grand Prix of Cleveland
  • July 22: Grand Prix of Road America
  • August 5: Honda Indy Edmonton
  • August 19: Loudon Indy 200
  • September 2: Grand Prix of Baltimore
  • September 8: Kentucky Indy 300 (Saturday night race)
  • September 23: Mazda Grand Prix of Monterey
  • October 7: Auto Club 500, Auto Club Speedway
  • October 13: Maker’s Mark 400, Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Saturday night race)
  • October 27: Armor All Indy 300, Surfers Paradise Street Circuit (Saturday day race, non-points event)

Is it the perfect schedule? No. It leaves off some tracks that have been pretty solid IndyCar partners as of late, with Barber Motorsports Park the most glaring omission. But owing to a somewhat boring debut last season, and its long history as a valuable test track, I have other plans for it… you’ll see.

John Oreovicz from ESPN wrote about his dream schedule. (Orginally posted on February, 22, 2008 using 2009 dates)

Now that the leaders of American open-wheel racing have finally succeeded in unifying the sport under the IRL IndyCar Series banner, there’s plenty of hard work ahead. One of their biggest challenges will be creating a future schedule that truly combines the best events from the IRL and the defunct Champ Car World Series.

 

Once it became known that open-wheel consolidation was going to happen much faster than expected, it was obvious that a significant number of Champ Car venues were not going to make the cut — for the 2008 season, at least. Of the 16 IRL races and 14 Champ Car races that were on the docket for the upcoming season, nine were set to run head-to-head on the same weekends. So obviously, something had to give, and Champ Car events were always the ones that were going to lose out.

 

However, a strong argument could be made for resurrecting a few of those dead-duck Champ Car races in the future and adding them to the most successful events on the IRL calendar — or bumping aside traditional IndyCar Series events that still don’t attract fans to the track in a post-unification environment. The 2008 schedule by necessity is a compromise, but the opportunity exists to create a 2009 race slate that would be a true representation of an “IndyCar World Series.”

 

While we’re being open-minded about the future, let’s consider as many potential venues as possible. There are more than 30 oval tracks in the United States and around the world, and there are just as many potential road and street racing layouts in North America alone.

 

But there are a lot of factors to consider before we start crafting a schedule, including:

 

How many races? Twenty sounds like a good round number.

What is the balance between ovals and road races? Half and half would satisfy just about everyone.

How much international flavor? The series should certainly race in the NAFTA countries, there’s a successful race in Australia and business reasons dictate an event in Japan. That leaves Europe up for debate in the future.

When should the season start and end? It doesn’t make sense to go up against NASCAR’s Daytona Speedweeks. And IRL leaders don’t want to run too deep into the NFL season. That leaves late February until mid-September — perhaps 30 weekends to squeeze in those 20 races. And it’s a given that the IRL wants to start and end its championship in America.

How significant is tradition? Cutting back the number of practice days at Indianapolis would make room for an additional race in early May. Most tracks covet date equity, but some venues might benefit from a shakeup.

How heavily should the IRL rely on International Speedway Corp. tracks? Since ISC is really NASCAR, the publicly owned track conglomerate might not be able to be counted on to put its full promotional effort into helping open-wheel racing rebound.

With all those points in mind, here is a suggested 20-race schedule for the 2009 IndyCar Series, along with comments about individual venues:

• Round 1: Feb. 20-22, St. Petersburg –Kick off the open-wheel season in Florida the week after the Daytona 500. Any later than March 1, and MLB spring training becomes a factor. May be a lame-duck event if the Tampa Rays build a new stadium in downtown St. Pete.

• Round 2: March 7-8, Phoenix International Raceway –Bring back this historic and once-popular IndyCar venue, but give it only two years to prove open-wheelers can again draw a crowd in the desert.

• Round 3: March 13-15, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City –The more races that can be run in warm-weather markets prior to the Indianapolis 500, the less stacked together the summer races will be.

• Round 4: March 27-28, Las Vegas Motor Speedway –Perhaps run it as a Saturday night special.

• Round 5: April 3-5, Long Beach –Avoid conflicting with the PGA Tour’s Masters Tournament to help the TV ratings, if possible.

• Round 6: April 17-18, Twin Ring Motegi, Japan — Ship the cars and equipment from Los Angeles, then give the teams a week to catch up.

• Round 7: April 25-26, Kansas Speedway –Continue oval-track buildup toward Indy.

• Round 8: May 2-3, Kentucky Speedway — More Indy buildup, at the track closest to IMS.

• May 8-10, 13-15, Indy practice days –Cut back the number of practice days to condense activity for fans and reduce costs for teams.

• May 16-17, Indianapolis 500 qualifying –Two days is plenty, even if real bumping makes a comeback.

• May 22 –Carb Day.

• Round 9: May 24 –91st Indianapolis 500.

• Round 10: May 29-30, Texas Motor Speedway –Give Eddie Gossage the date he wants (first race after Indy) and leverage other choice dates with Bruton Smith’s Speedway Motorsports Inc. tracks.

• Round 11: June 6-7, The Milwaukee Mile –The next couple of years will determine whether Brew-town still wants to be an open-wheel market.

• Round 12: June 19-21, Portland International Raceway –This is a key market that NASCAR still hasn’t cracked. A motivated title sponsor and a little TLC could bring the fans back to PIR.

• Round 13: June 26-28, Edmonton airport circuit –Would make economic sense to twin with Portland.

• Round 14: July 3-5, Cleveland airport circuit –Re-establish and grow this unique event with an annual Fourth of July tie-in.

• Round 15: July 17-18, Richmond International Raceway — A slightly later date more equally splits RIR’s traditional pair of NASCAR races.

• Round 16: July 24-26, Toronto –It’s a golden opportunity to truly recreate the Molson Indy now that the “What’s a Champ Car?” confusion will be gone.

• Round 17: Aug. 7-9, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course — A Honda favorite, though the company might get more bang from its buck by sponsoring a rejuvenated Cleveland GP.

• Round 18: Aug. 14-16, Road America — America’s fastest and most challenging natural terrain road course must be on the schedule.

• Round 19: Sept. 5-7, Detroit Belle Isle –How about a Labor Day weekend race run on the holiday?

• Round 20: Sept. 11-12, Chicagoland Speedway — Run the season finale Saturday night so as not to go up against the NFL on Sunday.

That’s a 20-race schedule that satisfies all the criteria listed above and even has room to squeeze in another race or two during the summer if absolutely necessary. Which is good because this schedule omits tracks such as Watkins Glen International and Iowa Speedway from the current IRL schedule, as well as Champ Car venues including Houston and Laguna Seca.

If anything, it proves that there are more than enough venues in America and around the world to create a diverse and challenging IndyCar Series schedule without treading upon NASCAR or Formula One turf. And it suggests that if markets that make the cut in the first couple of years of American open-wheel racing’s brave new world don’t perform, there will be a ready list of candidates to replace them.

Eric Hall from anotherindycarblog.wordpress.com says: (Orginally posted on April, 25&26, 2011) Eric’s Idea is to create IndyCar like Formula One but in the Americas. First, he has a description article then his schedule. Here it is:

Indy car racing’s history is, strictly speaking, an American racing series with historically American locations and champions. The FIA overseas international level racing and sanctions many types of “world” championships. Said championships mainly have European centered calendars with some flyaway action seen. In 2010, Formula 1 had 19 events, 11 in Europe and the Middle East, 6 in East Asia and Australia, leaving one race in Canada and one in Brazil. 2010 in the WRC was similar, 13 events and only 3, Rally Mexico, Rally Japan and Rally New Zealand, outside of the close European bubble. GT1 gets 2 of 10 in South America. INDYCAR needs to fill the holes in the western hemisphere voided by big championship racing absent outside of the handful of races, spanning various series, presented by the FIA. Although INDYCAR is an American championship, the series should expand the number of international dates, take a Formula 1 model and apply it to the western hemisphere.

Brazil and Canada are obvious candidates for races added to the calendar outside of the US. Vancouver could fill the hole in the northwest and give Canada another strong event. The race was dropped from the Champ Car calendar after the 2004 season amid controversy and economic turmoil, but I think we all think that Randy Bernard can make a race work anywhere. There has been talk of another street race in old city Quebec with the intent of using an old-world backdrop to showcase cutting edge auto racing and technology. Both of these options would give Canada a very strong 4 race schedule, mend more lingering split sourness, and give Canada a stage to showcase their very strong pool of talent they have to offer.

Brazil’s race on the streets of Sao Palo was a huge success last year. The stage was set, again, to give a country with a large contingent of native drivers, 8 different Brazilians raced in the series at some point last year, a home race. A second race in Brazil seems like a no-brainer. Give the country with the largest population of drivers in the series another event. Porto Alegre seems to be lined up for said second race in 2012. Fantastic. But if you are already flying the hardware down there, it seems to follow logic that you would hit as many tracks as would make it financially sound. A third race would be nice, but Argentina has a very nice track in Buenos Aries steeped in open wheel racing history. The track also has a triangle oval configuration. How cool would an oval race in South America be? Finally, a return to Mexico City would be really nice to see. The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez last saw Champcar in 2007 and was a victim of schedule coalescing due to unification. The track seemed as if it was well liked by the drivers and enjoyed by the locals.  Like the Autódromo Juan y Oscar Gálvez in Argentina, the facility would most likely need some updating for safety and drivability although the Mexican track is much closer to standards than the Argentinean track.

Many people have called for a return to Australia. This is not a sound location for a national series based half a world away. Races in South America and Mexico are in the same time zones here in the US, Australia in markedly not. Twin Ring Motegi has been all but invisible to American viewers because it goes down in the middle of the night. Australia did have viewership due to the history of Surfers Paradise. During the 2008 IRL season I did watch Surfers paradise, I can’t remember what time it was on but if memory serves correct, it was like at a reasonable hour unlike Motegi. Again, if we are making the trip to Australia the series needs to make it worth their while. At least one more race in addition to Surfers Paradise with, at most, two more. Calder Park has a quad-oval designed for stock car racing that could play host to the series.  INDYCAR does have a few heavy hitters from down under. 2 races in Australia and 1 in New Zealand would be perfect. The fans in Australia are rabid, and have had a spotty history with formula 1 in the history. As recent as March of this year, Formula 1 has talked of dropping Albert Park from the calendar possibly leaving a hole in the hearts of Australian open wheel fans, but I do not think INDYCAR can or should even try to fill the hole without multiple races in the area and heavy local support.

Formula 1 has a large presence in the East Asia market. The series, smartly, plan these six races in two blocks to cut down on transport costs for the teams. Although Honda funded the trip to Motegi every year, the race was not a huge success outside of the local market near the track and all but invisible to the consumers of  indy car here in the US.  China is supposedly building a 500,000 seat oval and hopes to hook INDYCAR with a big payday for racing at the facility. This is not in the best interests of the teams. As with Motegi, a two week block on either side of the race is needed for transport and being invisible from the western customers is suicide. There is a reason why the series is not that upset about losing Japan. The series also has no business in Europe, there is too much competition from other series to warrant a trip across the pond for a few dud races. Most of our European drivers came here to get away from the European style of motorsports; we should not force them to go back. INDYCAR would be smart to avoid going head to head with F1 in these markets and they don’t need to, they have a different style of racing which appeals to a different type of fan.

That would make four races in Canada, three in South America, and one in Mexico for a total of 8 races outside of the US with a possibility that only Mexico could be an oval. If this were the case and a balanced schedule is desired, INDYCAR would have some hard decisions to make. At a time when fans of the series are calling for more historic road racing circuits to be added to the schedule and oval deals are hard to come by, we would have to decide what is more important. A balanced schedule is very important for the visibility and viability of the series. If the schedule starts to lean towards roads or ovals more heavily, it would portray a Champ Car lite or IRL lite which would really start to jeopardize the peace that is running through the paddock and grandstands.

INDYCAR is Formula 1 American style, let’s expand and raise the series to its rightful place in the motorsports world. NASCAR is a non issue if INDYCAR is constructed in this mold. In England, the British Touring Car Championship is a giant, very similar to NASCAR, but Formula 1 is king. We can take this model, Americanize it and market the hell out of the series on an international level. I say expand north and south, keep the balance and don’t cross the pond or pacific.

Schedule part is this:

Late last week I posted an article about indycar racing becoming the Formula 1 of the Americas. Obviously this couldn’t happen over night or even anytime in the near future, but it is something for the series to shoot for. The Americas are relying on one another, for good or bad, more now than ever. INDYCAR can capitalize on the globalization and opening of markets in the Western Hemisphere. Imagine 20 years from now, free trade among the Americas is accelerating at an all-time rate and INDYCAR is there to give sponsors a canvas to market to the enlarged audience. This calendar is my dream “Formula INDYCAR” schedule. I know there are timing issues with other series, but this is considering INDYCAR the, by far, most dominant motorsports series in the Western Hemisphere, trailing only in global ratings to Formula 1. Because of this future role, INDYCAR has positioned themselves to push F1 out and fill the holes they left. This calendar runs from early march to late October.

  1. Long Beach, California street event (Ed: Thanks Pop Off Valve for catching the typo!! obviously I am not working hard enough to deserve the Ed tag)– Start the season in style. Roll out the red carpet, and kick the year off right, in the glitz and glamour that is the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Coming before the 12 hours of Sebring would mark the earliest this event has ever run in the year, but taking place in Southern California, I don’t think early March will pose any problems with the weather.
  2. Sebring – A support event for the 12 hours and bringing the whole ladder with them. The top teams in sports cars are in attendance, the worlds eyes are watching, and the series has an open test here nearly every year. We know indycar drivers like to race sports cars, so what better venue? Playing second fiddle to the ALMS for this event is no problem at all. (I know ALMS races in the GPoLB after Sebring, but this is what dreaming is for.)
  3. Buenos Aires, Argentina Autódromo Juan y Oscar Gálvez, Oval configuration – I know Buenos Aries is a long way away (Ed: Yea, like 12 hours on a plane and 5500 miles, far away) but the track is a nice road circuit steeped in South American open wheel history. I have no information on the condition of the facilities, but formula 3 still races there and MotoGP appeared for the last time in 1999, so it can’t be too bad. Finally, there is a three sided oval configuration to the track that we would use for this round of the championship.
  4. Porto Alegre, Brazil street event – At one time this race was a “done deal for 2011” but, obviously, we have no second race in Brazil this year, so who knows what happened. This spot in the schedule can be any street race, anywhere in the country. With the large contingency of drivers from Brazil, a second race for them would be nice to see.
  5. Sao Palo, Brazil street event – This street circuit was a huge success last year. After the racing surface difficulties were taken care of, the event went off without a hitch. I enjoyed the race, and thought it was one of the better twisties on the schedule. Let’s hope this, one of the few quality street circuits, continues in the future.
  6. Mexico City, Mexico Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Oval Configuration – This choice is, by far, the largest stretch of what might become reality. Champ Car raced on the road configuration in 2007, but the oval is a very dangerous place. Massive amounts of work would have to be done to bring the oval portion up to safety standards. (Ed: your dreaming remember…) It is a cool layout, with a high banked west turn, a flat east turn and being 7000+ feet above sea level, like nothing we have here in the states.
  7. INDIANAPOLIS – Need I say more?
  8. Milwaukee Mile – Return this race to its rightful spot on the calendar, the week directly after the 500. Open wheel racing has taken place here for more than 100 years. This track is older than IMS, in fact the oldest operating racing facility in the world. Talk about heritage and history. I am glad we are making a return to the mile this year.
  9. Pocono Raceway – Major upgrades are needed to make the facility usable for indycars. Adding SAFER barriers to the inside of the track, paving the grass and grinding the racing surface would be a huge financial endeavor. Pocono, also, plays a large role in the history of open wheel racing. 500 mile races and being a jewel in the indycar triple crown, litter the history of Pocono. If there is any single track I would like to see a return to, this is it.
  10. Toronto, Canada Exhibition place street event – Canada has more recent, but very close ties with indycar racing. Our friends to the north are as rabid fans as you will find stateside. With continuous racing since 1986 and having a strong following, this race is a keeper.
  11. Quebec City, Canada Old City Quebec street event –Edmonton gets axed to add, what could be, another very glamorous location. Using the backdrop of early 1600’s architecture, the circuit could become the Monaco of the Americas. There was a promotion group who were talking with the series a few years ago to bring INDYCAR to Quebec, so the thought is already out there.
  12. Portland International Raceway – Another track lost to unification, a return to Portland could give the northwest their world class event back. Ran since 1984 and dropped in 2008, the Grand Prix of Portland was a well received event when it was run and a homecoming to the northwest would be welcome.
  13. New Hampshire Motor Speedway – With the exception on Indianapolis, indycar’s oval history is entrenched in short track racing. These short tracks are as close to good ‘ol dirt track racing as we will ever see in the modern era of the sport. Although Loudon is a track with almost no open wheel history to speak of, short and unique ovals are in low supply and any that can be had, must be taken advantage of.
  14. Road America – The fastest, meanest road course in North America needs to have the fastest meanest cars racing on it. Another track with deep history in the sport, Road America has to be on the schedule. The event at the Mile only a few weeks before does bring sustainability issues, but it seems enough people have been voicing the desire to return to make it a successful weekend.
  15. Watkins Glen International – Not much needs to be said about the Glen other than the series is sorely missed by the locals. This is yet another example of F1 igniting the love for open wheel racing, creating history at a track, leaving, and indycars coming in behind and put on an even more exciting show.
  16. Chicagoland Speedway – This is the house that INDYCAR build and was pushed out of by politics. Designed with the help of IMS, Chicagoland was birthed to race indycars. Period. A track that has created some of the closest finishes in indycar racing’s history, and the closes finish in motor sports ever. (Logan Gomez beat Alex Lloyd to the line by 0.0005 seconds in 07, if anyone is playing at home) It is a shame this one needs to be on a wish list.
  17. Michigan International Speedway – The final 500 mile race to complete the triple-crown of indycar. I am not necessarily saying we need another Marlboro Million, but three 500 mile races would really separate the field. Just as in Indianapolis where cunning and skill bubble to the top in the closing segments of the race, we could have a real barometer of the true endurance of the teams and drivers.
  18. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – The Andretti hairpin… Zanardi in the corkscrew… Mario’s last race… sports car and open wheel history…
  19. Road Atlanta – The final road course, and it a heavy hitter. Road Atlanta is the final classic American road course. Some would say that this track is more demanding than Road America, but not quite. Holding the Petite Le Mans every year brings the world’s eye for the second time in the season to American road racing. Held in early October, INDYCAR could once again hold a support race for the ALMS during Petit Le Mans.
  20. Texas Motor Speedway –A trip to Texas for the 2-step marks the final leg to the season and a return to oval insanity that no other form of motorsports can touch. Indycar racing has had an on again, off again love affair with the duel style of racing. I like the idea, and like paying half points per race even more. This type of event gives an old school feel to the weekend.
  21. Iowa Speedway – The final short oval on the schedule. The newest big time oval to be constructed in the US. No concrete walls, only SAFER barriers and outriggers, 7/8 of a mile long and drives like a superspeedway. Designed by Rusty Wallace for NASCAR, Iowa has become another favorite annual stop for the series and fans alike. I LOVE watching the race at Iowa every year.
  22. Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Close the season in Sin City. Bring the glitz and glamour of Long Beach with, and throw one gigantic party. It seems that this is the direction Randy it trying to go this year with the race in Vegas. With high banks and high speeds to keep the adrenaline rush that is open wheel racing at fast ovals, Vegas will be a great way to end another exciting year of indycar racing.

There it is, 22 races, 11 ovals and 11 twisties. My only complaint is that there are not enough races in Canada. Vancouver got passed in favor of Portland, because the city of Vancouver seems to have despised the race. Canada absolutely deserves a third race, possibly a flat oval at Vancouver International? That idea has been kicked around in Cleveland, to have a double header weekend with a street event on Saturday and an oval event on Sunday. That weekend schedule could definitely be added to the calendar and keep the balance. Phoenix was another tough one to leave off. It has the provenance, received a huge upgrade last year and it another oval with a unique configuration… but there was no room for it.

Dylan from tripleleagueracing.wordpress.com wrote these articles on May, 11, 2010 and in September of 2009.

Most of what we have to go by is rumor, speculation, and informed, or not, guesswork.  Still, all that said, here’s what I think. 

  The first thing that comes up is the possibility of an ISC Meltdown.  Rumors are going around that all ISC tracks may be dropped at the end of this year.  Kansas is a loss, because it should produce good racing, and really, there are no tracks in that geographical area that can host an Indycar race.  On the other hand, attendance has been terrible, and the racing hasn’t been good recently, so it might not be that missed.  Homestead produced a pretty good race in 08, but last year, not so much.  Attendance there is awful!  Losing Homestead wouldn’t bother me one bit.  Chicagoland and Watkins Glen though, that would be a loss.  Chicagoland produces great racing, and it’s attendance is alright.  Watkins Glen is one of the better road courses Indycar runs on, and is always well attended.  Even if the ISC meltdown occurs, I could see Glen and possibly Chicagoland staying on.  Although not ideal, this could be okay if SMI’s track list is expanded. 

  I’m conflicted on the idea of dropping most of the ISC tracks.  The obvious concern is where do the ovals come from then?  SMI?  The “Indie tracks?”  I’ll get to them in a minute, but going to Gateway or Nashville isn’t that much better than going to Baltimore’s streets.   The other problem is ISC has a ton of tracks that Indycar really needs to be at, MIS, Phoniex, Fontana, Watkins Glen, and Chicagoland come to mind.  If the “meltdown” occurs, all of these great tracks could be wiped out for Indycar.  Already, we’ve lost Phoniex, Fontana, and MIS.  Indycar’s are the only thing that have ever been exciting to watch at Fontana!   But, really, what good has ISC done for Indycar?  I mean, they’re owned by the same people who own NASCAR!!!  Yeah, business is business, but can you really trust them?  I’d say probably not.  I’m not saying there’s a huge conspiracy, but really, how could that not create a conflict of interest.  I mean, this is NASCAR we’re talking about, funny business practices are a way of life for them!  Also, the attendance almost universally sucks at ISC tracks.  Even for NASCAR, they are generally considered poorer facilities compared to SMI, and less fan friendly, and they are owned by NASCAR!  So in that sense, what chance does Indycar have to be successful with them?   

  My only concern is if SMI has almost every oval, that they would have too much influence over Indycar’s direction.  SMI is a lot easier to work with than ISC, but still, I wouldn’t want Bruton Smith with too much control of Indycar, either, or it might become WWE on wheels. 

  Of the SMI tracks without a date, the two most likely to be added would be Loudon and Las Vegas.  Vegas would probably be a good event, and it’s only got one Cup date.  Plus, Vegas wanted to be on the 09 championship.  A Vegas race would likely end the season, or at least come towards the end of the year, because Cup is run in the Spring.  Loudon has two cup dates, but still would like to run Indycar.  The only issue with Loudon is where to put it.  The Cup race is early June and September.  That leaves either July, or maybe early May late April.  Either way, adding Loudon would both move Indycar to a new (old) area and probably be an entertaining race. 

  The other two SMI ovals worth looking at are Atlanta and Charlotte.  Atlanta makes sense, especially if it loses a Cup date to Kentucky. The only issue I have is that I would love to see Road Atlanta added, again, I’ll get more into this latter, but adding Atlanta Speedway would make adding Road Atlanta somewhat difficult, although generally they cater to a different fan base, even within Indycar.  Charlotte had the fan fatalities in the past, which ended it’s hosting of Indycar.  However, Charlotte still makes a lot of sense for Indycar.  Firstly, it’s in a major racing area.  Granted, that’s a NASCAR area, but I believe that NASCAR fans can be converted into Indycar fans, and anyways, there are zero races in that area.  Plus, it would be a high speed oval, which if the ISC meltdown occurs, will be in short supply.

   The “Indie” ovals that could potentially host Indycar are Texas World Speedway (think MIS or Fontana), Dover Motorsports INC (Dover, Nashville, Gateway), Pocono, Rockingham(US), and Milwaukee, plus Iowa, which is already run.  First off, just take the Dover group out.  None of those tracks ever produced good racing.  Concrete one-groove racetracks are not going to be exciting to watch.  Sadly, there have been lot’s of rumors about Nashville returning in recent weeks.  I’ve never understood the calls for returning to Pocono, but if ovals are in short supply, I guess I could see it.  Some people are concerned about the safety of Pocono, and it also is a track with two NASCAR dates close together, both being in the Summer (June and August).  The other possibility I’ve seen thrown around is Rockingham, North Carolina.  That is interesting.  That track should be large enough for Indycars, and it might be interesting.  The big issues are safety, and the fact the current facility is set up only for ARCA racing.  Milwaukee is in a ton of debt trouble, but one idea thrown around is Indycar doing the sanctioning for it, or having IMS do that.  Texas World Speedway, again, safety issues.  Only here, I think they are more severe.  Joe Gibbs Racing’s 20 team refused to test there because they didn’t feel it was safe enough.  Also, there hasn’t been actual racing on that track in years, although it is an unoficial NASCAR test track. 

  Of all these “Indie” ovals, I would guess that Texas World, Milwaukee, Pocono and Rockingham could produce interesting racing, while none of the Dover group would.  I can’t see the safety/facility at Texas making it feasible.  Pocono?  A possibility.  It makes sense if the safety thing can be worked out, and as a Cup sanctioning track, I would expect it to be close to safe enough.   Attendance and facilities though, not sure of.  Rockingham might not be very good, it used to eat up tires in NASCAR, and it doesn’t hold a ton of people anymore.  I think their biggest issue would be paying the sanctioning fee, and then attracting fans to go there.  Milwaukee sanctioned by IICS or IMS would work, and is possible, particularly if we lose all of the ISC tracks.  Otherwise, though, I don’t think they’d want to pay for it.  Sadly, Nashville is probably the most likely, because it’s the only one that I’ve heard rumored from multiple people.  It’s suprising because the race wasn’t good, and I don’t remember seeing a ton of people in the stands.  Refer to this article by John from Livefast Racing to get a more in depth look at why Nashville might not be that great. 

  Now onto the road and street course section.  According to everything I’ve heard, Baltimore is on.  I think this is a horrible idea, because as I’ve stated before, I really don’t feel that more than 5 street courses should be in one season.  But, Baltimore’s addition also adds some new questions.  Randy Bernard has stated that he wants a 50-50 balance, so I take it that Baltimore won’t come at an ISC track’s expense.  That means either it replaces Edmonton, which is troubled financially, or it’s added as the 18th race, and that opens the possibility of an expanded schedule, which I like.  I’d say about 20 races should be the target.  20 North American races, with Motegi and Sao Paolo as the 21st and 22nd, with those tracks required to pay for teams travel expenses and stuff, because many sponsors won’t pay for these races, although some Brazilian sponsors jumped on board for Sao Paolo.  Also rumored is a Quebec street race, although this is a pretty new one.  If it were to happen, I’d REALLY hope it comes at Edmonton’s expense, and not just adding another street course. 

  Of the existing road and street races, the trinity of motorcycle tracks, Infenion, Mid Ohio, and Barber, all probably need to go.  Yeah, the attendance is good, but I maintain that Road America, Road Atlanta, Miller, Cleveland, Portland and Sebring would all equal the attendance at these tracks, and at the same time provide more compelling racing.  Of these tracks, I would say Barber is for sure on the 2011 schedule, because Indycar signed a “long term contract”.  Infenion is really, really bad, and really needs to go.  Mid Ohio isn’t good, but of these three is probably the best, and yet again, if it went away that would clear the way for Cleveland, which would be a better race, and probably equally attended. 

  The two most important tracks to add, for 2011 are Road America and Cleveland.  These two races were able to always attract good attendance for CART/Champcar, and produce good racing.  Road America’s an incredibly beautiful facility, with the possibility of passing!  Cleveland under the lights would be impressive too.  Both tracks hosted a dying Champcar series, so I would expect them to be willing to work with Indycar.  Going on three years since Unification, and not having the two best races from Champcar on the Indycar schedule is ridiculous.  I’ve been told that there might be some resentment from Indycar that Road America sided with Champcar for so long, and if that’s the case, I would hope that they would rethink that position. 

  I’ve been really on adding Sebring and Road Atlanta.  Sebring has some concerns about the bumps in the track.  Also, both tracks are owned by the same people who own ALMS.  On the other hand, ALMS has worked well with Indycar, so it’s not as much of an issue.  Road Atlanta also has some safety concerns, although in my opinion, if it’s safe enough for LMP1 cars, it’s safe enough for Indycar.  My only on track concern is the Esses are pretty narrow.   The best scenario would be running with the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Petite Le Mans.  If this couldn’t be worked out, put Atlanta in the spring and Sebring in the fall, reversed from those Sportscar races.   Both tracks lack a history with Indycar, but have a good racing history and also could probably pack in the fans in.

  Although I know less about them, Portland and Miller make a lot of sense.  Both would be an a different geographical area than Indycar currently runs, and both are popular road courses which would probably be well attended.  I’m not sure why neither track ever really comes up, though. 

  I’d like to add, that I’m told all the time, “Indycar has to go where it’s wanted”, or ,”Indycar can’t dictate terms” and to a point, this is true.  Particularly with ISC and SMI, Indycar lacks leverage.  But, to the road and street courses, it does.  Because for the aforementioned road courses, who else do they have as a “marquee” event?  Probably only ALMS.  Grand-Am and AMA don’t count.  Miller does have World Superbike as well.  But otherwise, Indycar is basically the biggest series, or at least one of the biggest series coming to these tracks.  Take Barber for example.  Indycar is by far the biggest series running at that track.  What else do they have?  AMA and Grand Am.  Grand Am is not a strong series.  AMA, used to be pretty big, but it’s not doing to well either. 

  The biggest deciding factor for 2011 is ISC.  If the relationship dies, or nearly does, as in Watkins Glen is the only track left, that changes everything.  To keep a 50-50 balance, which is a goal Randy Bernard has stated, going to Nashville is a lot more likely.  On the positive side, that also opens Vegas and Loudon, and maybe Charlotte or Atlanta.  Which really wouldn’t be that bad of trade for Homestead and Kansas, the only loss being Chicagoland.  Road course wise, I’m sad to say, I’ve heard NOTHING on any of the tracks that I want on!  All that comes up is Street course, street course, street course!  I’m really at a loss for why Indycar ignores road courses that probably would have 55,000 or more fans, a great atmosphere ,and good on track action in exchange for the trinity of motorcycle tracks, which also have strong attendance and a nice atmosphere, but poor on track action.   I understand why Phoiniex, Nazareth, MIS, ect. aren’t on the schedule.  But I don’t get why Sebring, Road Atlanta, Miller, Portland, Road America, and Cleveland don’t have dates.  Especially why none of them have a date.  I’m not anti-road course, but Indycar needs to be at road courses that can be exciting.  And when there are 6 tracks that can be exciting and none of them have a date, and there really isn’t any buzz about any of them being added, that’s a problem.  Indycar has had a problem getting the oval fans to buy into road racing, and prehaps the fact that the best road courses in America don’t have an Indycar date might be the issue.  Truth is, I’d rather see Sebring, Road Atlanta, Road America or Cleveland on the schedule than Nashville or Homestead.

So Dylan argues that we need a 50-50 split and here is that part of it.

Indycar Scheduale, how it should be, 5-5-5-5-2

The 2010 Indy car schedule makes no one happy. The schedule moves away from oval racing, but, doesn’t add good road courses, either. The ideas on how road courses and ovals should be mixed vary between 7-7-7, 65-35, 60-40, and 50-50. I prefer 50-50, but, to me that’s too simple. Robin Miller believes that Indy car should dump the “cookie cutter” ovals, and move more towards 7-7-7, which is 7 road courses, 7 street courses, and 7 ovals. To me, that’s too few ovals, and Millers latest controversy over downforce ovals has got me thinking about the difference between ovals.

What I realized was there are two types of ovals, downforce ovals (1.5-2.0) and short ovals (.75-1 mile). The best schedule is 5-5-5-5, plus 2 “special tracks”. Here’s the schedule:

5 long ovals:

Kansas

MIS

Kentucky

Texas

Chicagoland

5 Short ovals

Richmond

Iowa

Loudon

Phoenix

Milwaukee

5 Street courses

Long Beach

St. Petersburg

Cleveland

Toronto

Edmonton

5 road courses:

Watkins Glen

Portland

Road Atlanta

Miller

VIR

Special races:

Indy

Road America

This schedule brings it to 50-50 with tracks that should be able to put on good shows. This would remove Infenion, Mid-Ohio, and Montegi. If Honda really wants Montegi, it would be the 23 race on the schedule. Montegi should probably be put back towards the beginning of the schedule, so that at the end of the year the season fans can actually watch the end of the season live, instead of tape delayed.

Road America should be added as a “major” race. The race should be ran as a long race, say three hours, and should be marketed as the biggest road race in America. To make more of an impact, Road America should also have large purse money, and that would make the race have a larger field, and get some attention on it. Road America is considered one of the greatest road courses in America, and it would be a good track to showcase the good points of road racing.

To me, this schedule would make the champion truly the greatest driver overall, because they combine all different types of tracks. Not only that, but you would have the truly most unique schedule in racing. F1, NASCAR, ALMS, and Grand Am don’t have anything nearly as unique as this type of schedule would have.

The only problem is the track politics of ISC, and the view of Terry Angust. ISC doesn’t really want to give Indy car good dates, and they don’t really want the Indy car series at there tracks, which explains why Indy car doesn’t race at MIS, Phoenix, or Richmond any more. Terry Angust wants to get large sanctioning fees from tracks, and that’s not going to work well with the ISC or SMI. That is why he feels tracks like Barber, and the Brazil race make sense. Of courses the problem these races don’t advance the product, and even though they make money, they in the long run will likely cost fans, and that hurts the series more than anything else right now.

Ross Fujibayashi from Racing Mania and Triple League Racing says this in a counterpoint article for Triple League Racing.

With the schedule I’m impartial. If the ovals don’t want indy racing then so be it. Let’s get the series where ever they can. The top four cities in the US need races. New York, LA, Chicago, Houston. I don’t give a rats ass if its street, oval, road course, they need to get back to those places and become popular. I thought the partnership with SMI would open up more tracks like Charlotte, and where ever Bruton’s scheming hands have been. I vote for Bristol be put on. I know its totally illogical but maybe just maybe. I’m obviously biased towards Road America, Sebring is a rough rough patchwork of concrete and asphalt. But, its flat and very fast, lots of passing zones. Ohh and very historic. Indycars do there version of winter training there so its almost a no brainer. Be a good race for the 12 hour weekend or weekend after. This years St Pete race was 7 days after Sebring so, move the St Pete race there. Make it a double header ticket and you have atleast 150,000 fans already there for the 12hours of Sebring. Who knows maybe some ILMC/WEC drivers and Indycar drivers could pull double duty. Who wouldn’t want to see Mr. Lemans (Tom Kristensen) in an Indycar. I know I do!

I say that I have to agree with Dylan on this and you can check these articles out that I wrote on it from a few months ago and present. The first one of my articles is from when I was at Triple League Racing and I wrote about building a good schedule for a new car: wrote on April 10, 2011.

The 2012 Indy Car Schedule is yet a long long way from complete but here is some news on it. New races could include a race in Quebec City. (Street Course), which could be similar to the F1 track in Monaco. Cleveland could be returning!! With a Friday night race on the new oval track and a Saturday or Sunday race on the Airport Circuit. The Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle could be returning. Houston is a done deal according to Speed’s Robin Miller which sucks but it leaves out Austin which is a great thing. The Octane Racing Group which promotes the Edmonton race and the F1 Canadian Race at Circuit Gilles Villenueve, is thinking about a street circuit in Calgary.  Randy Bernard has talked to Michigan, Laguna Seca, and Road America. The IICS is exploring a race in Quingdao China as a road/oval facility with over 500,000 seats. Some others that have been mentioned are a street courses in Seattle, Vancouver and the Portland International Raceway. Also a 2nd race in Brazil to open the season.

As for returning races. Long Beach has an agreement with the city through 2015 and potentially an extension through 2020. Sao Paulo has an agreement through 2019. Barber has a contract through 2012 RE: Trinity of Boredom. St. Pete will continue to through 2013 w/ an option through 2014. Baltimore ( Labor Day Parade) runs through 2015.

Now that is potetially 18 races but now are friends Bruton Smith and Eddie Gossage come into play I think that Texas, Kentucky, Vegas, Atlanta, and Charlotte should be added. Along with Milwaukee, and Loudon.

So that adds 6 more races to the potential schedule. Sonoma, Mid- Ohio, and Iowa will be removed I think because it doesn’t draw that many fans anyways.

Out of the new races 5 of them should happen

  1. Cleveland
  2. Michigan
  3. Road America
  4. Laguna Seca
  5. Portland

The others: Edmonton, and Toronto should return the are probably the best street course races of the whole year and plus PT doesn’t have to bitch about not having a ride for those races.

I believe in an 50-50 schedule it needs to be equal because if you go one way it will be terrible and no fans will want to watch.

Road Courses that need to be added are Sebring, Road Atlanta, Miller, and Watkins Glen. Why? BECAUSE YOU CAN PASS!! DID YOU HEAR THAT TRINITY OF BOREDOM TRACK HATERS!! THE 4 TRACKS ABOVE YOU CAN PASS AT!!  As for street courses Long Beach, St. Pete, Toronto, Edmonton, and Sao Paulo should stay because you can pass at the tracks. Cleveland I consider a race that is untouchable because it is just great. As for short ovals it should be Milwaukee, Loudon, Phoenix, and Richmond. Also there should be a Triple Crown of oval races ( California, Michigan, and Indianapolis).

Schedule breakdown:

10 ovals

  1. Milwaukee
  2. Loudon
  3. Charlotte
  4. Atlanta
  5. Texas
  6. Vegas
  7. Kentucky
  8. Michigan
  9. California
  10. Indy

10 Road/Street Courses

  1. St. Pete
  2. Road Atlanta
  3. Sebring
  4. Portland
  5. Cleveland
  6. Long Beach
  7. Watkins Glen
  8. Toronto
  9. Edmonton
  10. Road America

WIth that said the here is my proposed schedule for 2012

  1. Sebring (With ALMS)
  2. St. Pete
  3. Long Beach
  4. Portland
  5. Loudon 
  6. Indianapolis
  7. Milwaukee
  8. Texas
  9. Charlotte
  10. Watkins Glen
  11. Toronto
  12. Edmonton
  13. Road America
  14. Cleveland
  15. Kentucky
  16. Michigan
  17. California
  18. Road Atlanta ( With ALMS)
  19. Atlanta
  20. Las Vegas

Why have the races with ALMS because they run some race weekends with each other and IndyCar tests at some of their tracks, SMI is Bruton Smith’s group and is huge promoters with IndyCar and their main promoter Eddie Gossage. But at least the Twin Ring of Boredom will be gone as a end of the season race.

My next article was about the IndyCar staff making good decisions for 2012.

The 2012 Indy Car Schedule won’t be released for another 3 months probably. I have been paying very good attention to this topic. The many rumors are Street courses being added. Such as Houston, Vancouver, Quebec, Calgary, Belle Isle and many more. Cleveland might have a doubleheader weekend with a new oval track that is a 1 mile airport track, with the legendary track being on Sunday. I’m going to share my good, bad, and ugly tracks, also my format and how it will work also some very good schedules from other websites.

First off I want to say is that IZOD IndyCar Competition needs to have a 50-50 split between road/street courses and ovals. The current schedule has none of this the complete ChampCar copy series in the making. We have good street events at Toronto, Edmonton, Long Beach, and St. Petersburg, those need to stay going into the road course section of the schedule, ALL OF THEM NEED TO GO!! Barber has the worst racing I’ve ever seen at a road course track and the other two (Sonoma and Mid- Ohio suck.) The ovals are probably the most exciting part of the schedule because you have the excitement at Texas, Kentucky, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and probably Las Vegas.

The tracks that NEED to be added are. Sebring, Road America, Road Atlanta, Cleveland, Watkins Glen, Portland, Michigan, Phoenix, Chicagoland, Canadian Motor Speedway.
Sebring, Road America, Road Atlanta, Portland, and Watkins Glen need to be added because these tracks bring GOOD ROAD RACING unlike the Trinity of Boredom RE: Barber, Mid-Ohio, Sonoma. As for ovals Michigan, Phoenix, and Chicagoland NEED to be reinstated these tracks have the most action packed oval racing with PASSING! Street Courses don’t see that much of a change in my eyes, just drop the Labor Day Parade at the Baltimore Inner Harbor, and add Cleveland instead. Sao Paulo should be moved to a special interntional race that could hold a doubleheader maybe with Formula 1 in the near future, with F1 at Interlagos, and IndyCar at Sao Paulo, this would make sense because both of these tracks are in Sao Paulo. Say the IndyCar race is Saturday have all of the fans that show up for that race get free tickets to Interlagos for the Sunday F1 race.

And finally my last article was for this site in August

Okay since the IZOD IndyCar Series doesn’t go to the tracks that made CART/ChampCar famous, ISC ovals that provide great racing, and finally not great road courses RE: Barber, Infineon, and Mid Ohio. I am going to take you readers into a format that will work very successfully. Here it is: 5 Short Ovals (1 mile or less), 5 long ovals (1.5 mile to 2.0 miles), 5 Street courses, 5 road courses and 2 “special races.”
Lets start building up a dream schedule!

5 Short Ovals:

  1. Iowa Speedway- 0.87 miles
  2. Memphis Raceway- 0.75 miles
  3. Milwaukee Mile- 1.0 miles
  4. New Hampshire- 1.0 miles
  5. Phoenix- 1.0 miles

5 Long Ovals:

  1. Chicagoland- 1.5 miles
  2. Fontana- 2.0 miles
  3. Las Vegas- 1.5 miles
  4. Michigan- 2.0 miles
  5. Texas- 1.5 miles

5 Road Courses:

  1. Portland- 1.96 miles
  2. Road Atlanta- 2.54 miles
  3. Sebring- 3.7 miles
  4. Watkins Glen- 3.37 miles
  5. VIR 3.25 miles

5 Street Courses:

  1. Cleveland- 2.10 miles
  2. Edmonton- 2.24 miles
  3. Long Beach- 1.96 miles
  4. St. Pete- 1.80 miles
  5. Toronto- 1.75 miles

2 Special Races:

  1. Indy- 2.5 mile oval
  2. Road America- 4.0 mile road course

So that wraps up this huge article and the longest in Racing Mania’s young history.

Thanks for reading,

Kent

 

 

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