Indycar’s 2014 schedule of last resort

The IZOD Indycar 2014 schedule will be one of contraction and disappointment. I try to be a cheerleader for the IZOD Indycar series but the outlook for next year’s schedule just so dismal, unimpressive and artificially truncated.

May 26, 2013; Indianapolis, IN. Empty stands is what Indycar officials seem to want at Houston and Auto Club Speedway by moving those races into the heat of the summer.

Unless there is are some surprises coming on the schedule, expected on Sept. 25, it looks like a shorter season with less venues and more double headers. Baltimore is gone, and rumors are that Sao Paulo might not happen too, which sucks. If the rumors of Houston and Auto Club Speedway moving into the heat of the summer are true those events won’t be long for this world either. Having the MavTV 500 taking  place on Labor Day weekend and Houston in June or July because they don’t want to go head to head with the NFL just sounds insane to me. I can’t imagine sitting in aluminum stands in 95 degree heat to see a race.

So we’re looking at 15 weekends at 14 venues, which is only one more race weekend than Champ Car had in the years before that series folded. The IRL had 17 events pre-merger You can dress it up with some double headers if you want, but the series has regressed in it’s efforts to compact the schedule. I support the idea of international races, even a stand alone series, but fifteen races over seven months is just sad.

Derrick Walker, Indycar’s head of competition, held a Twitter Q&A with fans this afternoon, and so I asked him if there would be any new venues in 2014, and the answer confirmed what I’ve long feared.

Walker also ruled out returning to Mexico next year, confirmed that there is trouble with Brazil’s race that has nothing to do with date, and all but confirmed that IZOD is on their way out as title sponsor.

The only new event will   probably be the Indy Road Course, as part of a weekend  United Sports Car Racing  event along with Indy Lights, Star Mazda and USF-2000 would be my guess. I’m not opposed to this idea, Bobby Rahal made a good case for it, but Indycar cancels one, possibly two events,  exiles two events to the heat of the summer and makes up for it by adding a double header at St.Pete, and road race at The Speedway? Really? That’s an improvement? Yeah, I can totally see where canceling popular races in big markets and holding outdoor events in 95 degree heat will bring more fans to Indycar.

So with no new venues, maybe no Brazil, the least they could do is move Houston to April. Back when the Shell Grand Prix of Houston was a Champ Car event it went off the third weekend in April. The six-week long Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in March would prohibit Houston for a date early than January. Looking at the arena’s event schedule April seems to be a much more reasonable time to race around the Reliant Center than mid summer.

So here we go, 15 events, all north American with four double headers for a grand total of 19 events. It’s a unimpressive schedule of  last resort if you ask me. Forgoing established events like Baltimore and moving others into unfriendly weather in order to meet some artificial deadline just seems so unnecessary. If they can’t get an international series done, and there’s a good chance it won’t come off as planned, there will be a lot of unemployed crew members come the mid-September.

March 28/29 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 26/27 Shell Grand Prix of Houston, Reliant Stadium

May 11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

May 25 Indianapolis 500

May 30/ June 1 Chevrolet Duel at Detroit*

June 7 Texas Motor Speedway

June 21 Milwaukee Indyfest, The Milwaukee Mile

July 6 Pocono Indy 500, Pocono Raceway

July 19/20 Honda Grand Prix of Toronto*

July 27 Iowa Corn 250, Iowa Motor Speedway

August 3 Honda Indy 200, Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course

August 24 Go-Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma

August 29 MavTV 500, Auto Club Speedway

 

Bold dates are confirmed through public sources

* Denotes double header event

Topics: 2014 Schdule, Derrick Walker, IZOD Indycar

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  • bigdcart

    I’ll say it again; there’s plenty of sponsorship dollars waiting to be had in Cleveland. Contractually, Mike Lanigan owns the rights to the Cleveland GP through December 2013, then its up for grabs for any race promoter. And Cleveland is a city despite for something to be proud of in terms of its professional sports.

    • Matt Schafer

      I’d love to see Cleveland back on the schedule. I might even make the road trip to Ohio to see in person. I don’t know how close it is to ever happening again.

  • Jesse

    Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA has a road course of over 2 miles with significant elevation change. I often wonder in Indy would be opposed to such a hilly track with 100+ feet of up and down. ??

    • Matt Schafer

      I’m not familiar with Pacific Raceways, but the pictures I found make it look like a good course. The problem is they don’t have an FIA rating, and I’m relatively certain that Indycar needs a FIA Grade Two rating in order to race at a track, and even then it might not be safe for Indycar. Road Atlanta has a Grade Two rating and it’s radically unsafe for Indycars. So if there is a promoter and an owner willing to lay out several million it could be made to work.

      • Jesse

        Thanks for the reply.

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