(The Indycar Manifesto series will continue. I just wanted to get this off my chest.)
Last week, Racer.com published an article discussing the state of Indycar's 2014 schedule. Several things stand out in that article, which I'd like to discuss with the fine folks at Indycar:
1. More doubleheaders. Ok, I'm game. Rolling starts, please.
2. Ending the season by Labor Day. Why??? Ok, I guess I can see the argument for it: Unbeatable competition from football and the NASCAR Chase. That doesn't fix a couple other problems. Is it really in the series' best interest to drop off the radar for six months? Going silent-no news, no race coverage, no fan interest for an entire half a year. I wonder how many new fans are lost to these long off-seasons. Do many fans turn to NASCAR and realize they can get a fix anytime they want for 10 months of the year? Do many fans watch football and forget about Indycar, instead of vice versa? Is fear of your competition a wise strategy? Is there some other calculus behind this I'm not aware of?
3. This is the big one. An Indycar race at the IMS road course. Sure, there are practical benefits: No travel for Indy-based teams, a dedicated infrastructure, etc. But I think running Indy cars on the road course can only cheapen the Speedway and the 500. (That point has very nearly been reached already; I'm waiting for the announcement that some cones will be laid out and SCCA autocrosses run on the front stretch Sunday morning, while an NHRA christmas tree has been procured and bracket racing will start on the back stretch next Thursday night.) Stop it. Protect the heritage. Maintain the mystique and keep the 500 special.
Ok, ok, ok. You've looked at the bottom line. You've been a steward of the heritage. You've consulted Donald Davidson. You're running a race on the road course and no one can stop you. All right. I'll yield. I'll stop the kicking and screaming while you drag me into the 21st century. On one condition: Don't run the road course in May! That sounds like the easiest way possible to damage the 500's cachet. Keep May pure. (Even if it is just a fortnight now...) Keep all the events you do, and keep doing them. Build the entire month up to the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Don't put on another race before then. Don't confuse fans with the Indianapolis 250 Mile Race, or whatever you have in mind.
Since I'm a reasonable person, I'd like to propose a compromise. You get to have your IMS road course race. We get to keep our May pure. You get to build more value into the facility and the season. Run the IMS road course as the season-ender. Crown the champion there. That puts it as far away from the 500 as possible on the schedule-giving you maximum time to promote during the season, and minimum downtime after the season. It also gives you a reason to promote the championship harder-not only at the other events, but with double the opportunities at the 500. Make it a big deal-maybe even a week long. Practice Friday and Saturday, qualify Sunday, spend a week hyping it up, come back for 'Carb Day 2' with the season-ending Lights race the following Saturday, and race on Sunday. Or not. But push it, and stay away from May.
On the upside, there's racing again this weekend! Looking forward to it.
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Until next time,