Thursday, August 27, 2009

What the real schedule Tweak might look like

With the recent tweaks to the IndyCar Schedule for 2010, it appears a few things are evident. First, the chances of Milwaukee returning to the schedule look slim. Second, the Saturday night format for the Kentucky race will continue, even though it is now on Labor Day Weekend. Lastly, no one knows which national holiday Japan is observing, so moving the race is really obsolete to American fans.

The 2010 schedule was largely put together off what works well for the IRL. It was not put together with the idea that the IndyCar Series will try a location and hope it works. The IndyCar series knows that tracks on the schedule have worked before in terms of attendance, racing, promoters, and are banking on that for 2010. The global economy has put a damper on all of motorsports, and that has directly effected where and when the IndyCar Series has the means to race at. Throwing out the economy (which is hard to do) and the politics of motorsports (which is also impossible to do) IndyCarGarage put together what might appear to be a ideal 23 race schedule for the IndyCar Series.

The break down is 12 ovals and 11 road/street courses. The first idea to this schedule would be to keep the format of more ovals than road/street courses but have a competitive balance of tracks. The second idea would be to keep interest in the IndyCar Series throughout the peak months of early April to early September, this is shown by only two races being held during College Football and the NFL seasons.

23 races (12 ovals / 11 Road/Street Courses)

IndyCar Series schedule: We can dream can’t we?

Sunday, March 14, Brazil
NOTE: This race screams money and sponsorships, something every series needs

Sunday, March 28, St. Petersburg, Fla., 1.8-mile street course
NOTE: An AGR Promotions event , works well for the series

Sunday, April 4th - Phoenix International Raceway, Phoenix AZ, 1 mile tri-oval
NOTE: From 1950 – 2005 this was a mainstay event in open-wheel racing, it needs to return

Sunday, April 11, Barber Motorsports Park, 2.38-mile road course
NOTE: 2010 will be the first of a three year deal, early rumors about the course is that passing is limited, but 10,000 attended the test earlier in the summer.

Sunday, April 18, Long Beach, Calif., 1.968-mile street course
NOTE: Great venue, great attendance, good tradition, works for everyone involved

Saturday, May 1, Kansas Speedway, 1.5-mile oval
NOTE: The IRL has been there since 2001, an ISC track, which means it’s always questionable to return. There are better ovals to run on than Kansas

Sunday, May 30, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2.5-mile oval
NOTE: 2011 will mark the 100th anniversary of the first Indy 500.

Sunday, June 6, The Milwaukee Mile – 1.0 Oval
NOTE: Lots of tradition and history at this track and a good event for the series, too bad the promoter situation is backwards right now.

Saturday Night, June 12– Texas Motor Speedway, 1.5 oval
NOTE: Some of the most exciting racing in IRL history has come at this track. Crowds are usually very good as well.

Sunday, June 20, Iowa Speedway, .875-mile oval
NOTE: Fairly new venue for the series, as the IRL has only hosted three races for open wheel. The race has sold out every year, but it only holds 42,000.

Sunday, July 4, Watkins Glen International, 3.37-mile road course
NOTE: The IRL has been there since 2005 and finally found a date that works for everyone, Independence Weekend.

Saturday/Sunday, July 9thth/11th – Cleveland Doubleheader
(Friday oval/Sunday Road Course)
NOTE: This has been talked about, and could be interesting. The road course has involved open wheel for decades, the oval part would be new. The problem with the DH format, short time in between races (five days), and teams would have to have two different cars setup, which for the smaller teams, they would need backup cars. Cleveland could return, but the DH is a long shot.

Sunday, July 18, Toronto, 1.721-mile street course
NOTE: This races along with Edmonton gives the series Canadian flavor and helps with sponsorships to the north. This is also another AGR Promotions event.

Sunday, July 25, Edmonton City Centre Airport, 1.973-mile airport course
NOTE: A Champ Car event that was added in 2008, as with Toronto, it helps sponsorship with Canadian drivers and markets.

Saturday/Sunday, July 31st/August 1st – Loudon, New Hamisphere, 1.0-mile oval
NOTE: Loudon has recently lobbied for a race, but sparse attendance is a fear of the IRL as they raced there from 1996-1998 and couldn’t fill half of the 105,000 seat racetrack. Tony Stewart won at this track in his brief open-wheel career.

Sunday, Aug. 8, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, 2.258-mile road course
NOTE: Open wheel goes back to 1980 at this course and it has proved for some great crowds recently, in part due to the support race of ALMS.

Sunday, Aug. 15, Infineon Raceway 2.245-mile road course
NOTE: The IRL started racing here in 2005 and it provided Marco Andretti his first and only victory in 2006. It was the site of a horrific crash for Will Power and Nelson Phillipe this year.

Saturday, August 21st, Homestead-Miami Speedway, 1.5 oval
NOTE: CART started racing here in 1996 and the IRL went there in 2001. It’s an ISC track so it always seems to be on the bubble every time the schedule release comes up. Attendance has been another issue as well at this track.

Saturday, Aug. 28, Chicagoland Speedway, 1.5-mile oval
NOTE: Similar to Kansas, this is a oval that has provided some of the most exciting racing for the IRL. It like Homestead and Kansas, are ISC tracks that focus on NASCAR events. Most ticket packages revolve around purchasing a season package of the two NASCAR events and the IndyCar race. Not necessarily the way you want to promote a race, although attendance has been strong.

Saturday, Sept. 4, Kentucky Speedway, 1.5-mile oval
NOTE: Kentucky is another track that has provided very exciting racing throughout it’s time of fielding IndyCar races and also proved to be the site of many historic accomplishments such as Sarah Fisher’s pole in 2002. Bruton Smith has been very outspoken about the direction of the IRL.

Sunday, Sept. 19, Twin Ring Motegi, 1.5-mile oval
NOTE: This race helps with the Honda sponsorships and also the overseas market. It gained notable popularity when Danica Patrick won in 2008.

Saturday, Oct. 2, Indianapolis Motor Speedway – 2.621-mile road course
NOTE: The biggest question out there right now, is why the season finale isn’t at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The road course was originally built for F1, but since 2007, F1 hasn’t visited the IMS. Moto GP uses a modified version of the road course, but it could easily adjusted for the IndyCars. Of course you will have people say it takes away from the tradition of the 500, and they are correct, but times have changed. The tradition of the 500 was gone when NASCAR came in 1994. People now have more of a opportunities to visit the 16th & Georgetown. Tony George original vision for the IRL was that the season concluded with the Indianapolis 500, the series première event. That isn’t possible anymore, but wouldn’t it be great to crown the series champion at IMS , at the home track of IndyCar? Attendance would probably be the second highest event of the year.
Let the debating begin…..

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