So we’re approaching the halfway point of the season, and we’re probably a few months away from seeing the 2014 schedule. I’ve been scouring the news and it seems like we will see some changes, or maybe even a significant re-alignment.
Most of the schedule for 2014 is already set, more or less. Most of the venues have contracts for next year, and would like to return in similar dates in 2014. There could be some shuffling of weekends, but other that at least 80 percent of the schedule is already written thanks largely to long term deals with number of street races.Done deals:
Of course the Indy 500 leads this category, but the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama has another three years on its contract and Long Beach already has its 2014 date up on its website. The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Shell Grand Prix of Houston and the Sao Paulo Indy 300 all have contracts that run through 2017. Green-Savoree, the promoters of The Honda Grand Prix of Toronto contract runs through 2014. The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix is already soliciting 2014 ticket sales and are planning even more improvements for next year. Autoclub Speedway and MavTV are both confirmed through 2014. Go Pro and Sonoma have contract for the Go Pro Grand Prix that goes through 2015.
Expected to be back:
There hasn’t been an announcement yet but it seems like Michael Andretti, the Wisconsin State Fair board and the Indycar front office all want The Milwaukee Mile to return next year. If a title sponsor is found I’d expect a long term deal to be announced. It seems like the race at Pocono is a multiple year deal, but I can’t find anything about how long the contract is. Iowa Speedway should be back, but apparently it’s date might shift. June is a busy month, Milwaukee and Iowa draw from the same market and freeing up a week in June could allow drivers to run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
On the bubble
The Baltimore Grand Prix still doesn’t have a title sponsor. Baltimore needs a sponsor and I’ve talked with a number of people from Baltimore who don’t go to the races in part because of the traffic jams the race creates for weeks before and after.
For years Indycar has talked with Phoenix International Raceway and Road America, raising fan’s hopes that open wheel could return to these venues. Once again it appears that Phoenix and Road America are both in talks about returning to the series. Each track could fill a void in Indycar’s schedule Road America seems to want an August or early September date. Phoenix, where the current car has been tested, could finally provide an oval before the Indy 500.
- CEO Mark Miles has been floating the idea of a fall race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for several months now. It would be an easy way to add an extra race to the schedule since the track and the series are owned by the same entity.
- The Circuit of The Americas has expressed interest in hosting Indycar in the past, but has been quiet lately. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Indycar join the Pro-Mazda weekend in early march.
- Chicagoland is rumored to be interested seeing the series return.
- The Canadian Motor Speedway has won permission to begin construction and needs to secure a headline event. Unlike road courses that can fill their schedule with track days and amateur events ovals need to have large spectator events, and Brian France said there would be no significant changes to the Sprint Cup schedule. Given Indycar’s stated desire to have more events in Canada and the fans’ desire for more ovals I wouldn’t be surprised to see a mid-summer date for the Canadian Motor Speedway.
- The other track that could end up on the schedule is New Orleans Motorsport Park. Built by the same designer who laid out Miller Motorsport Park and Barber Motorsport Park the track just south of New Orleans offers a wide variety of layouts. Fans have been asking for an earlier start to the season, and that area of New Orleans has been building up lately. It might take a few years for the infrastructure to get in place, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see NOLA Park on the schedule this year, or any following
One of the big questions is if the double-header format will return. I made the 750-mile trip to from Atlanta to Detroit to attend the first duel, and I liked the event. Detroit is already lobbying for another double header in 2014, ratings were decent and the crowds weren’t bad considering the weather forecast. The only question is whether the teams and the front office want the double headers to continue. If they come back how many will there be? Sonoma expressed interest in a double header, and so has Iowa Speedway.
I wonder how much the double headers might influence Road America. The public reasons given why the IZOD Indycar Series isn’t running at Road America has been the series and promoters are fairly far apart on the sanctioning fees. I wonder if a double header couldn’t be the compromise that gets the two to a deal.
Unless there is some major realignment this is the most likely schedule I see happening in 2014, twenty race weekends with twenty four races. It would add four new venues, two road courses and two ovals. I also think we might see Iowa moved to the fall so that Milwaukee can drop back a week to get off Father’s Day weekend and give the teams an earlier bye week. Bold events have contracts for next year
- March 24 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Streets of St. Petersburg
- April 6 Honda Grand Prix of Alabama. Barber Motorsport Park
- April 13 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Streets of Long Beach
- April 27 Phoenix 300, Phoenix International Raceway
- May 4 Sao Paulo Indy 300, Streets of Sao Paulo
- May 25 Indianapolis 500
- June 1 Chevrolet Duel in Detroit, Belle Isle Park *
- June 7 Firestone 550, Texas Motor Speedway
- June 23 Milwaukee Indyfest, The Milwaukee Mile
- July 6 Pocono Indy 400, Pocono Raceway
- July 12/13 Honda Grand Prix of Toronto, Streets of Toronto *
- July 27 Canada 300, Canadian Motor Speedway
- August 3 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
- August 16 Iowa Corn 250, Iowa Motor Speedway
- August 24 Go-Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma
- August 31 Baltimore Grand Prix, Streets of Baltimore
- September 6/7 Grand Prix of Wisconsin, Road America *
- September 14 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
- Oct. 4/5 Shell Grand Prix of Houston, Reliant Stadium *
- Oct. 19 MAVtv 500, Autoclub Speedway