Hopefully we’re less than a month away from the 2015 Verizon Indycar Series, and news continues to trickle out about what we might see next year.
What we know:
- Several races have already publicly announced dates. So far Long Beach, St. Petersburg, The Indianapolis Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 and the Detroit GP have all announced dates on their websites. They’re returning to their familiar dates with no changes.
- Barber Motorsport Park has a contract for 2015, but a date isn’t announced yet.
- Iowa Speedway hasn’t announced a contract for next year, but the Iowa Corn Growers have renewed its sponsorship for 2015. Given that there is a title sponsor and apparent interest from both sides Indycar will be back at Iowa.
- GoPro is in the last year of it’s contract as the title sponsor of the Sonoma Raceway. The crowds have been good at the event and it’s likely that the race will go one, even if Go-Pro doesn’t return.
- I’m not certain if Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course has a contract for next year or not, but given the size of the crowd I’d be shocked if it was dropped from the schedule.
- Pocono Speedway has a contract for next year, but was disappointed in the crowds. Track President Brandon Igdalsky has made comments about the event not continuing next year. I think the track will be on the schedule next year, but there will be a change in schedule.
- Toronto’s date will likely move forward into June to accommodate the Pan-American Games. The games also use Exhibition place, and creates an obvious conflict. A public document states that Toronto officials want the June 6 weekend, which would obviously mean changes for Texas.
- Texas Motor Speedway has a handshake to return, despite lackluster crowds. I’m guessing the date will change based on the Toronto information, but since the weekend is paired with the NASCAR truck series, which has a busy summer, some juggling will have to happen. Maybe because of the dwindling crowds at TMS it’s time for a change of date.
- Shell is locked into a multiple-year deal for the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, which currently has one of the worst dates in all of sports; taking place in the middle of a Texan summer. With Shell’s unwillingness to move the event close to the Shell Houston Open in April, and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in March it looks like Houston is locked into a summer date for the time being. In a perfect world the race would be shifted to January or February, or Mike Lanigan could move the Shell sponsorship to Cleveland, and revive the race at Burke Lakefront Airport. Robin Miller did suggest they were looking at an alternative venue, but who knows what form that might take.
- According to numerous rumors Indycar will be returning to Brazil, but not Sao Paulo. Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet in the capital of Brasila is supposed to undergo improvements and host the second race of the season.
- Supposedly Indycar boss Mike Miles plans on starting off the season with a street race in Dubai. I’m fairly positive about this idea. Dubai is a massive tourist city, and constantly ranks in the top ten of world-wide tourist trade. If the race is done right, say in the model of Singapore with a long course over wide streets under the lights then I think it would be a stunning start to the year. A 7 p.m. start in Dubai is a noon time start on the East Coast.
- The Louisiana Legislature appropriated $4.5 million for improvements to g. Indycar announced they were working to host an race there, and recent comments by Mark Miles show they’re still working towards that end. Unless they were serious about a June date, it’s likely that NOLA would be the first American race between Brazil and St. Petersburg. One of the big questions though is if St. Petersburg still has a contractual claim to being the first domestic race of the series.
- Road America is not going to happen in 2015, although according to Tony DiZinno, apparently now it’s a question of a date, not a sanctioning fee . There was supposed to be a series test at the course sometime this year, and that hasn’t happened yet. Track president George Bruggenthie made some comments during the Nationwide Series Race that made it look like they’d given up on Indycar for the time being.
- Providence is apparently quietly working on a hosting an race. Yes, it’s gone quiet, but Miles said in June they were still talking with the city. Something to consider is that governments can surprise people sometimes, the Brave’s move to suburban Cobb County took the city by surprised, so it could still happen.
- Mazda Speedway at Laguna Secca isn’t likely to make the schedule so long as Sonoma is on it, but it’s the last year of the Go-Pro sponsorship, and if Sonoma wants off Laguna Secca could pickup that weekend. This would become a lot more likely if Mazda throws in with Cosworth and enters the series in 2016.
The Worst Case Scenario
- Not everything is rosy for the Verizon Indycar series. The worst case scenario is that Pocono doesn’t return, Toronto or Texas falls off the schedule because of lack of available weekends, NOLA’s date comes in the middle of the summer, Houston doesn’t return and the international events don’t pan out. If that happened Indycar could be looking a sad calender of 14 or 15 weekends where the season ends in August and doesn’t start again until the end of March.
The schedule, as I can figure now.
- Feb 22 UAE Grand Prix, Streets of Dubai
- March 8 Grand Prix of Brazil, Autódromo Internacional Nelson Pique, Brazila
- March 22 New Orleans Grand Prix, NOLA Motorsport Park
- March 29 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Streets of St. Petersburg
- April 19 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Streets of Long Beach
- April 26 Honda Grand Prix of Alabama, Barber Motorsport Park
- May 9 Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Road Course
- May 24 Indianapolis 500
- May 30/31 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit, Belle Isle Park
- June 6 Firestone 600k Texas Motor Speedway
- June 18/19 Honda Grand Prix of Toronto, Exhibition Place, Toronto
- June 27/28 Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix, Location TBD
- July 12 Pocono Indy 500, Pocono Raceway
- July 19Iowa Corn 300, Iowa Motor Speedway
- August 2 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course
- August 9 Grand Prix of Rhode Island, Streets of Providence
- August 16 ABC Wisconsin 250, The Milwaukee Mile
- August 23 Go-Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma
- August 30 MAVtv500, Auto Club Speedway