So the ratings are in for the Indy 500, and while they’re up they also provide a road map for future expansion.
Indianapolis of course lead the pack with a 12.9 rating, but looking at other viewing areas shows where the fans are. Pressdog, who is a great Indycar blogger btw, wrote up the breakdown of the ratings. It’s good to see markets already served by Indycar racing showing good numbers, Tampa-St. Pete 6.0, Columbus 6.6, Milwaukee 5.3, and Dallas-Ft. Worth 4.4
There were a few surprises, and more than a few places where fan support match up with potential expansion locations.
Louisville’s 9.4 rating was the second highest local rating int he country, Dayton, Ohio, was third at 8.2 and Cincinnati recorded a 6.2. While the Honda Indy 200 takes place at Mid-Ohio that’s an area that really hasn’t been served by Indycar in several years. Kentucky Speedway lays almost dead center between Louisville and Cincinnati.
Until looking at these numbers I wasn’t a big fan of going back to Kentucky Speedway because, ya’know, Indycar failed there. But then I took a better look at the Indycar schedules during that time. During the last three years Indycar raced at Kentucky it never raced in the same month twice. Of course it’s going to be hard to build an event when a track changes ownership, adds a Sprint Cup date and shuffles dates around.
Given these ratings I think it’s time to look at returning to Kentucky Speedway. It’s only NASCAR date is in late June, which leaves plenty of time for Indycar to return to its traditional late summer date. Currently the last weekend in July and the second weekend in August are open.
Portland International Raceway
Long a stalwart of CART and Champ Car Portland International Raceway hasn’t hosted an open wheel race since 2006 but the Portland area still showed a 7.3 rating, one of the best in the nation.
The track has been repaved and upgraded, is in the middle of a metro area and is one of the few race venues in the world served by light rail. It’s a standing circuit with a significant racing history, and one that many fans would like to see back on the schedule.
Obviously it’s going to come down to funding, and it’s probably not going to come from the city. It’s going to take combination of a prompter, politics and title sponsor to make it happen, hopefully these numbers will help fuel efforts to return racing to the city-owned track.
It’s more than a little surprising to me that Albuquerque recorded a 7.3 rating considering there isn’t an Indycar event nearby. The series is always looking at adding new street courses, so why not Albquerque? I know nothing about the city, but Indycar needs more warm weather dates and New Mexico is a bit like Iowa in that it doesn’t have any major league sports franchises. Maybe a downtown Grand Prix could work there. I don’t know, but maybe someone should look into that.