Does IndyCar Really Need The Grand Prix Of Indianapolis?


The month of May has always been magical when it comes to IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500. The entire month is devoted to testing, tuning, and hyping one of American motorsports biggest, most prestigious staples. But with last year’s inclusion of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, held on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, IndyCar began to overdo it.

More from IndyCar

Granted, IndyCar is more at home on road courses as opposed to ovals. But to hold a race at the same facility in the same month as the biggest race of the season takes away from the prestige of the 500. As NASCAR demonstrates, it’s one thing to hold a non-points event (Sprint Unlimited) at the same venue as their biggest event (Daytona 500) a week before. But the Grand Prix of Indianapolis is a points event and it does go towards the overall championship.

Last year Simon Pagenaud took the win in the inaugural event, which was an underwhelming affair. Marred by a huge accident at the drop of the green flag, the race was largely uneventful as opposed to the main event that occurred later in the month when Ryan Hunter-Reay barely won over Helio Castroneves.

The difference between the two events was night and day. On one hand, the GP was dominated by rookie Jack Hawksworth only for some bad pit strategy to be the deciding factor in Pagenaud’s win. The race was marred by accidents from the start. Meanwhile the Indy 500 was nothing short of amazing, with great racing throughout and a stellar finish. It was easily one of the great Indy 500 finishes ever. So why is the GP of Indianapolis coming back for a return engagement?

Another reason why the Grand Prix of Indianapolis is otherwise redundant is because the majority of the schedule is run on road courses. There’s nothing wrong with that when it comes to IndyCar. Road courses tend to be more exciting than most ovals (although last year’s Indy GP was an exception to the rule), and open wheel cars are usually synonymous with turning left and right, just like stock cars are synonymous with running on ovals.

But there is such a thing as overdoing it. That’s not to say that there needs to be a perfect balance on the IndyCar schedule. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has only two road courses. That schedule doesn’t even come close to “balance.”

But when it comes to IndyCar there are a few other venues that can take the place of the IndyCar GP. Maybe not in the month of May, but if the schedule absolutely has to be 16 events, venues like Virginia International Raceway, Road Atlanta, or even Sebring would be great replacements.

For that matter when it comes to ovals, they can always make a return to Michigan International Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, or even hold an event (and this is a long shot but could be entertaining) Bristol Motor Speedway.

Indianapolis is a track apart from the rest. There’s so much history there, so much prestige, that it honestly feels like that holding the GP of Indianapolis the same month as the Indianapolis 500 cheapens things. It takes away from the majesty of the 500, and it just doesn’t feel as prestigious.

What’s your take? Do you think the Grand Prix of Indianapolis is a welcome addition to the IndyCar schedule? Weigh in and comment below.