There has been a lot of discussion lately about the IndyCar schedule and what it should look like. For more answers to this I am doing a debate with the following people:
- Robin Miller (SpeedTV)
- David Malsher (RACER)
- Tony DiZinno (RACER)
- Mike Knapp (15 Days in May)
- Leigh O’Gorman( The F1 and Motorsport Archive)
Q: This year, we have five new or reinstated races. Out of the five (Baltimore, Fontana, Belle Isle, Milwaukee and China) which one/s get dropped in 2013?
RM: Not sure but I would think Fontana is the biggest question mark because it’s the first time back in several years and it’s all contingent on what kind of crowd it can draw.
DM: None of them. All promoters will be given a chance to build the market.
TD: Ideally none, but I think Fontana (possible low crowd) or China (depending on how the sponsor value is or lack thereof) could be vulnerable. Belle Isle and Milwaukee have two invested promoters who are also team owners, Baltimore’s a wild card as a great event but with financial issues stemming from the original promoters and now the new ones.
MK: That’s a hard call. Baltimore only gets dropped if the promoters cannot get their act together as it should grow even more after a solid first race. I don’t have a lot of faith in Fontana as it isn’t even a good NASCAR stop any more. Like a presence in LA but it needs to draw to stay. Belle Isle will stay as long as sponsorship stays on because it is Roger Penske’s baby. China stays because the series and sponsors want a presence in Asia. So the short answer is Fontana is on the bubble, as is Milwaukee unless it has better attendance than last year.
LG: None. Milwaukee may be the weakest, but I believe Andretti can do enough to get another year or two out of the project at least. Of the least, this would be mainly multi-year deals, so even if they did fail, I can’t see them being pulled. Remember, if the contract is broken, someone may have to fork out big bucks.
KM: I’d have to say China because I see ZERO point in going over there at all. Michael Andretti’s promotions of Baltimore and the Milwaukee race will be good. Belle Isle will go back to the old CART layout which is a good thing. Fontana is a question mark.
Q: Fans want the historic races back (Phoenix, Portland, Cleveland, Road America, Surfer’s Paradise, Michigan and Pocono. Which historic races have a chance to comeback in 2013?
RM: I think Phoenix is the leading candidate but Road America has the most public support along with Cleveland (but they need a big title sponsor)
DM: Road America. Hopefully NOT Phoenix as it has such high grip surface, you’ll get a similar situation as we saw in Vegas. JR Hildebrand and Marco were easy flat and low-line around there after just a couple of laps in testing. Would love to see Pocono back but doubt it. Same with Cleveland and Portland – not for 2013, at least. Surfers is a bit more possible but don’t bank on it.
TD: I think Phoenix and Road America have the best chance on that list.
MK: In 2013 I would see Phoenix and Road America as they have seem to have been the two that have progressed the furthest in talks.
LG: 2013 is not very far away. For any of these events to truly succeed, the series really needs to look at 2014, in order to make sure all the right pieces are in the right places.
Phoenix, Michigan, Portland, Cleveland and Road America would all be very nice, but it’s not going to happen unless there is a desire from both sides to make it happen.
Demanding that race should take place, purely on the basis that it was once a classic event is a foolish endeavour.
KM: I’d say Phoenix, Road America, Cleveland and Pocono all have chances.
Q: Should it be a 50-50 or 60-40 split.
RM: I’d love 7 ovals, 7 road courses and 7 street circuits like the old CART sked but we’ve got to be realistic and go where people want Indy cars nowadays.
DM: 60-40 would be good, but let’s just go to the markets where you can get interest. No point in holding an oval race just to say we’ve got a better balance on the schedule, if only 10,000 people turn up.
TD: 60-40 is fine in this day and age.
MK: I say 60-40 is fine. Ovals should always be the majority in the series if it is possible, but I like the road/street aspect to still be a factor because it means the champion has to be a very well-rounded driver.
LG: I couldn’t care less. As long as the circuits are good, that should be the only thing that matters.
All the arguments about percentage split is merely political grandstanding that holds the series back.
KM: I’d prefer 50-50 but in this age of the racing 55-45 is fine with me.
Q: Out of the races that weren’t transferred in unification, which one should be added to IndyCar’s schedule?
RM: Surfer’s Paradise because it was a huge event, paid a big sanction fee and now INDYCAR has three stars from Down Under who the Aussies would cheer for.
DM: Road America or Surfers
TD: I’d say Cleveland and Road America, but Road America should be easier to bring back.
MK: I’d love to see Michigan again. That was the site of some awesome racing back in the day.
LG: I have not thought about it to be honest. That was then, this is now – the future is the only thing that matters.
KM: Road America and Cleveland.
Q: Should the European leg of the schedule happen in the future, why or why not?
RM: think INDYCAR needs to try and get solvent here before going back to Europe, although Brazil and China makes sense moneywise (at least to INDYCAR).
DM: If the market is there, yes. But let’s wait until these cars have higher baseline power and a decent push-to-pass. No point in going any place where they could get shown up by Euro formula cars.
TD: A race in Europe seems to make more sense than one in China, but might not be worth it financially. I’d rather the series establish a consistent schedule of U.S. races where there isn’t year-to-year turmoil and then and only then head there.
MK: No. I don’t see the need unless the sponsors wanted a race there.
LG: There is absolutely no need for a European leg. Who on Earth would it possibly serve?
There is no need for an extra series in Europe – we are already massively oversold with championships. In fact, series’ are falling by the wayside, because there is simply so much going on — and IndyCar would only be another “thing” going on.
A European leg would not serve the European market, it certainly doesn’t help the US market and it doesn’t help IndyCar.
I’m aware that there may be one or two company’s in IndyCar that may garner some benefit, but that really only points to their lack of direction.
If a company in IndyCar is looking for European activation, then why are they in IndyCar in the first place.
KM: Yes but once we grow the American market. I only say yes because there are two ovals over there that have hosted IndyCar races.
Q: How many races would you want to see internationally in IndyCar.
RM: No more than three.
DM: Two: one in Surfers Paradise, one in Mexico City. But the two final races need to be a road/street course in America and an oval in America – don’t care which way round.
TD: Three or four, no more than 20 percent of the schedule. In a perfect world, Surfers’ Paradise comes back and there’d be one or two European races. Then the rest domestic in North America plus the Brazil event.
MK: I think that IndyCar should focus on staying a mostly North American series. That said, if there is an interest in the series elsewhere, be it due to fan support (like Brazil or Surfer’s) or an interest of the sponsors (China) then they should look for events in those areas. Otherwise I think the US and Canada should always been the main focus.
LG: The series does not really need any more than they already have. The focus should be on building its home market.
KM: No more than 4. Canada and Mexico don’t count.
Q: Your Dream Schedule, now?
RM: Phoenix, Long Beach, St. Pete. Trenton, Indy, Milwaukee, Barber, Cleveland, Toronto. Iowa, Springfield (dirt), Richmond, DuQuoin (dirt), Mid-Ohio, Indy (dirt), Elkhart Lake (with ALMS), Edmonton, Michigan, Mt. Tremblanc, Surfer’s Paradise, Mexico City and Laguna Seca
- St. Pete
- Long Beach
- Mexico City
- Watkins Glen
- Road America
- Surfers Paradise
- Dover Monster Mile
- Las Vegas STREET race
TD: My dream schedule would be all 2012 races except Texas and China (I’m no longer a proponent of these cars on 1.5-mile ovals, but that’s just my opinion), add Phoenix, Cleveland and Road America, two European rounds back-to-back (the Rockingham or Lausitz oval plus a non-F1 permanent road course) and Surfers’ Paradise for an even 20.
MK: I would love a series with 20-22 events. This is personal preference, I’m not thinking in terms of business, ratings, etc. Ovals — Indy, Milwaukee, Iowa, Texas, Michigan, Phoenix, Chicagoland, Kentucky, Pocono, Richmond, Fontana. Road — Road America, Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen, Alabama. Street — Toronto, Houston, St. Pete, China, Baltimore, Rio.
LG: My dream would be circuits that deliver good racing. Everything else is just detail.
- St. Petersburg
- Long Beach
- Road America
- Palm Springs
- Watkins Glen
- Cleveland (oval)
- Rockingham (UK)
- Euro Speedway
I would like to thank all of our guests for taking time out of their day to do this roundtable.