Let’s face it, IndyCar hangs on every year as a major league sport because of one, and only one event: the Indianapolis 500.
With that said, just like so many other businesses are doing during this elongated recessional time, it looks like the Hulman family and IndyCar have decided to go the direction of an 18-race schedule that will last little more than 150 days. At least the drivers and teams have a nice long offseason. Yes, it appears that IndyCar is going part-time.
The merger of ChampCar and IndyCar five years ago was suppose to bring a new beginning to American open wheel racing. It did limit the confusion that most had as to what exactly was the premier North American series in open wheel. The hiring of a promotional-minded CEO in Randy Bernard was received with skepticism; but in the end, he was accepted as the sport seemed on a positive path.
However, Bernard was not roundly liked by the Hulman family who owns IndyCar nor by some of the car owners – as a result, he was terminated after the 2012 season. Mark Miles took over but to date, not much has been improved or advanced in the series; and in fact, two successful events have been eliminated, including the fun-to-watch race in Brazil. There was also hope of adding circle tracks to the calendar but that did not transpire.
Incredible shrinking schedule
To that end, the schedule has been condensed into a small five month season. The schedule starts in the second week of spring with St. Petersburg and ends a week before Labor Day weekend in Fontana. Afterwards, a full seven month offseason is what open wheel fans can look forward to. Ugh!
The series added the road course at Indianapolis in early May, but marketers are concerned it will cannibalize the Indy 500. Other problems with IndyCar include a lack of a title sponsor for the series and the aforementioned road course race at Indy.
Still, the most disconcerting part of the schedule is its length. To invite casual fans into the series while building and creating new fans – having a seven month layoff between seasons isn’t helpful. If they’re worried about filling the stands of big tracks while also having apprehension about the danger of high speeds, why not add smaller tracks like Phoenix, New Hampshire or add another race at Iowa. Too bad Chicago Motor Speedway isn’t still around. By the way, Disney World Speedway is still around – it too is a one-mile track that the series began its history back in 1996.
Nevertheless, IndyCar has a compact schedule for 2014 with the next offseason encompassing summer, fall, winter and spring of 2014 and 2015. The long layoff could be altered if the IndyCar series can engineer an often-talked about winter schedule. However, the impression is the series isn’t heading in that direction and IndyCar, as a sport, would seem to be going part-time.
So if you see someone hanging around the back door, looking for employment, especially in the Indiana area, it’s probably just an off-duty IndyCar employee looking for extra work. Alright Dario, quit nagging me, here’s a broom.