Food for thought, IMS road race and international series

The IndyCar series is off on another month break until the doubleheader Houston weekend and the season finale at Auto Club Speedway. With Scott Dixon’s retirement following contact with Will Power on a restart putting him almost an entire race behind Helio Castroneves, Castroneves is sitting pretty, but things can change just as quickly especially with a doubleheader race. Fontana can also throw a curve ball into the championship. Anything can happen during that time, just like what happened to Will Power last year and in 1999 Dario Franchitti had the points lead going into Fontana, but on a late pit stop lost a lug nut which allowed Juan Montoya to close in and win the title on a tiebreaker.

Recently, several things have been swirling around the IndyCar circles:

Race on IMS road course possible:

This week, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal is going to test on the IMS road course in both clockwise (ala Formula 1) and counter clockwise (ala MotoGP). Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles said that he feels that something new has to be tried in order to add value to the Month of May.

Both Miles and new Indycar competition director Derrick Walker have admitted that the layout of the circuit will likely be tweaked if the race does get the green light.

Now my take: While I’m in favor of adding races to the schedule, and being that the race at the IMS Road Course would be easy for teams to get to and it is a free race for INDYCAR (Hulman & Co owns both IMS and INDYCAR), I don’t think that it is a good idea. Trampling on the tradition of IndyCar racing one race a year at IMS for over 100 years is one thing. The point that I want to make is that rovals are not good to begin with. There are no elevation changes or the differenct challenges that are presented on driving on a street course. Another quote by Robin Miller on the RACER article states: “Called boring and unchallenging by past Formula 1 and MotoGP racers, the IMS road course is widely regarded as needing a facelift.” So if F1 and MotoGP driver aren’t fans of the track, and both series can but on good shows at tracks across the world, the initial anticipation isn’t encouraging.

Even if they do make some changes, there isn’t a whole lot they can do to modify the track.

Having a separate race from the Indianapolis 500 at IMS isn’t going to help the Indy 500. On paper, it is going to be part of the month of may, but the race itself will be run like any other race at any other track.

International winter series possible:

RACER magazine has also confirmed that INDYCAR is looking into running an international leg of races during the offseason as early as next year or maybe 2015. Their reasoning is that it would give teams another source of income during the long offseason. While international races have had their successes like Surfer’s Paradise, and with a series that has a diverse driver lineup, running races outside the country is not necessarily a bad thing.

A few team owners seem to be in favor of the idea according to the article, notably Sarah Fisher and Bryan Herta, both of which own very small teams. It gives their sponsors some exposure across the world and could bring an extra stream of money in for them, but this isn’t going to help the bottom line of the series. IndyCar needs to focus on getting its fanbase in the US up first and foremost. With the tv ratings on NBC Sports Network being as low as they are, you can’t expect the average fan to wake up at 7 am in the morning to watch a race from halfway across the world.

How they can get their fanbase up, that is another story for another day.

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