It could be considered ironic that the IZOD IndyCar Series, which was started by Tony George as an open wheel oval alternative to the heavy-laden road and street schedule of CART, would contemplate adding yet another road course to the calendar. However, that is exactly what the series is seriously looking into (source: IndyCar). In fact, it would be surprising if they didn’t add it to next year’s schedule.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) built a road course for Formula One (F1) after Tony George, who created the IndyCar series, arranged for F1 to come back to the United States after almost a ten year hiatus. The United States Grand Prix ran races there from 2000 to 2007 when F1’s supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, pulled the event from the schedule. Other motorsports series’ race at the track and include: MotoGP, Grand Am and NASCAR.
Grow IMS & IndyCar
Now it seems apparent that IndyCar will add the road course to the 2014 calendar. Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co. (parent of IndyCar), inferred that IMS was seriously taking into account the idea of the series racing at the historic venue (source: AP).
“We have been thinking for many months about how to grow IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway both,” Miles said. “The idea surfaced several months ago that maybe we ought to think about the fact that we have a road course here. Maybe we can improve it and have a race here.”
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLLR) and Panther Racing tested the 13 turn two-and-a-half mile road course. Actually, they used several different renditions of the course to determine all different aspects of holding an event there next year.
Some traditionalist partisans have thought it almost sacrilegious and against convention to operate an IndyCar race on the road course. However, Graham Rahal, driver for RLLR gave it a positive if somewhat guarded review saying,
“It’s actually not a bad track. Everybody knocks it, but I had some fun.”
IMS President J. Douglas Boles gave a tepid yes to racing thereby inferring the event will happen, but they’re just trying to figure out how the race should be presented. Said Boles:
“We’ve already heard great things from the drivers, and that’s part of the next step in deciding how we use the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.”
Schedule sets up
Although as a fan and realist, along with being somewhat of a pragmatist, I do see the purist’s side and in fact when the IndyCar series first started, I thought it genuinely proper that an oval-based open wheel series was a great idea. Still, let’s face it; the road course is there, the series already has more road and street races than ovals, so why not use the grandest and most historic of all facilities to operate a road course in the IndyCar series. Even though they have a long-term contract, there’s speculation that the Sao Paulo, Brazil street race might fall off the calendar, so adding the Indy road course makes even more sense. And yes, the Brazil date is at the beginning of May: Get the idea?
Understanding the scheduling and its ramifications can be noted as a good thing or bad – the risk of splitting fan dollars may well be worth it and I’m sure that’s what the folks at IndyCar are banking on, if you get my drift.
So don’t be surprised when the IndyCar schedule comes out (likely very soon), that there’s an extra event at Indy on the calendar for 2014.