The 2014 IndyCar Series schedule features a March to late August schedule and eliminates the erroneous three and four week gaps that were part of this years schedule.
The only new race on the schedule is the Grand Prix of Indianapolis which will take place on opening day of the Indianapolis 500 (May 10). The two races that have been omitted are Baltimore which was announced will not return to the schedule in September due to a College Football Game in 2014 and an American Legion Convention in 2015. Sao Paulo has been shaky ground since this years running.
Pocono has been increased from 400 miles to 500 miles, making the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown a true triple crown of Indy, Pocono, and Fontana.
Some dates have been moved as well. The Grand Prix of Houston Doubleheader has been moved to June to avoid the conflict with the NFL again, two weeks following the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Making 2 races in Texas within 3 weeks of each other. One of the Houston races is under consideration to me made a night race, providing relief from the hot Texas summer sun. Milwaukee has been moved to August from it’s traditional June date.
Barber and Iowa will now be run on Saturday with Iowa returning to a night race as it was from 2011-12.
The season will conclude once again at Auto Club Speedway featuring the MavTV 500 for the 3rd straight year, but the race will be moved again from October to August 30th, following Sonoma Raceway making it a California swing ending the season.
2014 IndyCar Series Schedule
March 30 – St. Petersburg
April 13 – Long Beach
April 26 – Barber (Saturday)
May 10 – IMS road course (Saturday)
May 17-18 – Indy 500 qualifying.
May 25 – Indianapolis 500
May 31-June 1 – Detroit double-header
June 7 – Texas (Saturday night)
June 28-29 – Houston double-header
July 6 – Pocono
July 12 – Iowa (Saturday night)
July 19-20 – Toronto double-header
August 3 – Mid-Ohio
August 17 – Milwaukee
August 24 – Sonoma
August 30 – Fontana (Saturday night)
The schedule is not bad, making the races tight together will eliminate the 3 and 4 week breaks which in return may increase TV viewership. Having races back to back makes it easy for the average fan to keep up with the races. Take NASCAR for example, they run 36 weekends a year and only have a few off weekends throughout the year.
Losing Balitmore and Sao Paulo is a disappointment, being that those two street circuits put on possibly the best street races held in the last couple of years.
Moving Barber to Saturday during the day avoids a time conflict with the NASCAR race at Richmond that Saturday night, which is good.
Moving Houston to the summer is a double edged sword. Avoiding Football season gives the promoter more time for track preparation which plagued the event as it returned two weeks ago. The other issue is the weather. The Texas summers can be brutal, but then again Saturday’s race was in the 90s as well with a high humidity rate as well and chasing the weather a game of chance at times.
Whether or not the state of Texas can handle two races in that short period of time it yet to be determined being that Houston has a huge population in the range of 2.161 million people and can draw a big local crowd that may not take the four hour drive up to Fort Worth two weeks prior. Plus, there may be a crowd of people that may prefer a street circuit rather than an oval or vise-versa that may not go to both races anyways. Making one or both of the races a night race will help as well.
The other question mark is the season finale at Auto Club Speedway. With indications from the speedway that ticket sales are on the rise from last year, the race is poised to become a staple on the IndyCar schedule for years to come, but moving the race around 3 times in 3 years could hurt the growth momentum due to a lack of consistency. Plus moving it up to August factors in the late summer California heat. Last years running of the race was marred by 105 degree temperatures which may have killed the walk-up crowd.