The International Race of Champions went from being a highly competitive, international event boasting the best of CART, NASCAR and other series into a NASCAR support show that eventually couldn’t support itself. But it’s rested for six years, the landscape has changed, and I’d love to see it back in a different form.
The idea behind IROC is great, take the best drivers from the top series, put them equal cars and see what happens. Slowly it got taken over by NASCAR, took place on NASCAR weekends on oval tracks and basically became support series with a few non NASCAR drivers sprinkled in. Still, the concept is sound. What I would like to see is a return to its roots, but with a twist.
Realistically, given the nearly never ending NASCAR schedule you could only really do four events, and given the cost of staging a race it would have to fit into existing weekends. So what I would propose is trying to hit the best of all worlds. Do an IROC race during the week at Daytona Speedweeks, maybe under the lights after the qualifying races for example. Have the next race after Carb Day Practice at Indy. Doing both of those races during the middle of the week could give a prime-time event to bolster both races and allow drivers from the opposite series enough time to not interfere with their day jobs.
For the other two dates you have to have a road or street course, and Long Beach is the most prestigious street race in America. A race started at 5 p.m. Thursday in Long Beach it would be 8 p.m. on the East Coast. To fill out the other race with a diverse slate IROC could stage a race at Richmond International Speedway on Thursday night before the April race.
That sort of schedule would present a compact season beginning at Daytona and ending at Indianapolis. Combine that with a respectable television television contract you could have a test bed for weekday television that could expose racing to an audience that doesn’t watch a lot of Sunday racing.
When it comes to setting a twelve driver field I think it would make sense to do a bid system. The champions of the Sprint Cup, IZOD Indycar series, Nationwide Series, Firestone Indy Lights and ALMS/Grand Am series team would all get automatic bids. After that there would be two at-large bids each for the Sprint Cup and Indycar series, which would secure ten drivers. After that I think the smart thing to do is to have an online vote so that fans could vote in their favorite drivers from any series.
For cars there is a proven, unique, cost effective car looking for a series; the Delta Wing. It completed the La Petit Le Mans this year with no trouble and is unique enough that no driver would have a home field advantage. Because of its engine it can run a good length without pit stops, which would level the playing field and a field of twelve could look striking on camera while giving a series sponsor a eye-catching platform.
I think I have presented a brilliant idea, now someone needs to make it happen.