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Exploring IndyCar’s 2014 schedule rumors, Round 1

Aug 16, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT

Indianapolis 500 Getty Images

As traditionally has been in the case in past years, NBC Sports Network IndyCar insider and pit reporter Robin Miller has the first lines on next year’s IndyCar schedule. A report posted on on Thursday had several interesting nuggets, notably a possible IndyCar race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and two possible west coast race date changes (Houston and Fontana).

Miller reports that likely, Fontana could get moved to June to create three consecutive months with a Triple Crown race and Houston could move to August. An IMS road course event could be held to kick off the month of May.

One race that if it stays, will likely need to move anyway is Baltimore, which has held its first two and will hold its third race on the same Labor Day weekend. In 2014, however, the city’s “Star Spangled 200 Spectacular” celebration kicks off on Sept. 6 with the annual Defenders’ Day event at North Point. Labor Day is the Monday just before that, on Sept. 1, 2014, but the city would likely need the preparation time for that event.

The upside of such a schedule, if it comes to fruition as Miller projects, would be more races than in 2013 and no event casualties, and packed into a tighter period which would by default reduce the number of two or three-week gaps in-between races. That’s a good thing to sustain interest and keep IndyCar in the news cycle.

The business upside of an IMS road course race, while it will probably drive traditionalists’ minds nuts, could be too big to ignore. Title sponsorship potential for an IMS road race would temporarily eliminate the need to worry about a title or presenting sponsor for the Indianapolis 500 itself. Pair it with the entire Mazda Road to Indy ladder and suddenly the USF2000 and Pro Mazda teams have their first opportunity to race at IMS, which could be an attractive possibility.

The downsides of the potential schedule: June is already stockpiled of events as it is, with five in four weeks there this year. Fontana in June wouldn’t be pretty from a temperature standpoint, even as a night race. Same would apply for Houston in August.

Road America is a wild card. As I noted earlier this week, Road America seems all but a cinch for the 2014 United SportsCar Racing schedule and in an August date; that would be a nice landing spot for IndyCar on the same weekend. It almost makes too much sense, and that’s why it probably won’t happen.

IndyCar helps Road America if the track needs to fill weekends – the track already will lose the SCCA Championship Runoffs next year and its separate GRAND-AM weekend, which was paired with the NASCAR Nationwide Series in years past, was folded into the American Le Mans Series weekend this year to create the one-time only combined weekend of the two sports car championships. That lost revenue from needs to be accounted for somewhere; we all hope it’s IndyCar but for yet another year it might be the case of “if only.”

  1. wallio - Aug 16, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    Michael Andretti (well his promotion company anyway) have veto power over Road America in order to help grow The Mile. Mikey has said that race needs 4-5 years to get to where a second WI race won’t kill it, so I highly doubt Road America happens this year. I would be very happy to be wrong though.

    • indycarseries500 - Aug 16, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      Michael has said numerous times an event at Road America wouldn’t bother him.

  2. indycarseries500 - Aug 16, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    So who’s getting moved to make room for Cali in June? Why can’t they get the teams a weekend off in June? Who gets the finale? Baltimore? Iowa? Chicagoland? Road America? Sonoma?

    If they are looking to wrap up by Labor Day they better be gearing up to start in mid January because a six month offseason is a lot worse than a month or three week break.

    • snoopyo - Aug 16, 2013 at 4:22 PM

      I agree if they end by Labor Day then better start in January probably on Saturdays. Moving the Fontana to June and Houston to August could be bad moves with the weather being so hot. I would sit out in the heat for the races but the casual person probably will not. Instead of bringing a road race to IMS why not try to go to Road America, Cleveland, Portland, or Laguna Seca. We need to try to get a couple more ovals the problem is people don’t go to them and they lose money.

      • indycarseries500 - Aug 16, 2013 at 4:42 PM

        June should be fine for Fontana, the crazy hot season there is mid-July to late September.

        There are quite a few advantages to running the road course at IMS, I don’t think it’ll take away from the 500 at all, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve already got Chevy, Fuzzy’s, Verizon, or whoever lined up to sponsor it.

        I’m kind of wondering if Iowa gets moved to Labor Day of if Chicagoland or Kentucky get that date since I’d imagine they’d like to close with an oval

    • drylake - Aug 19, 2013 at 6:54 PM

      Robin Miller hates Laguna Seca, but my sources at SCRAMP say they are talking. Dario was here Saturday for the historics driving Porsches with Patrick Dempsey. Derrick Walker was quoted earlier this year, “There is interest on our part.” The finale was always at Laguna because everybody wants to end the season with a round of golf at Pebble.

      • drylake - Aug 19, 2013 at 6:56 PM

        We have Indian Summer weather through November, as well.

  3. midtec2005 - Aug 16, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    Indycar sure does make some dumb decisions. The IMS road course race will have 5 people in attendance, and they are raising prices for the 500 when it wasn’t even sold out…. Talk about mind-blowing, horrible business decisions. With so many things going well for the sport this year, why would they screw it up? This is the kind of crap that makes people wish the series would just fold and start over with a standalone 500.

    • indycarseries500 - Aug 16, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      They raised some and lowered some. The terrible decision was raising the practice/qualifying/Carb day tickets.

      As far as the IMS road course, I think they can pull something decent, of course like MotoGP or BY 400 crowds at IMS decent will look pathetic, advantages are hospitality value for sponsors being at IMS, you can give NBCSN a marquee event they can sell and get behind. The teams are already there for three weeks might as well give them another oppurtunity to score points and for the fans because a race is a lot more interesting than cars going around in circles testing.

  4. snoopyo - Aug 16, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    So much for tradition seriously a road course race at INDY in May. Well never under estimate the power of stupidity with the people at 16th and Georgetown.First raising the ticket prices for the 500 but have them cheap for the brickyard is pathetic its like that family shows no respect for the race that made them there fortune and now a road course race for INDYCAR its sad.How do they expect people to show up for both races when you raised ticket prices for the one race that matters most. This I guess is what happens when you hire a firm who knows nothing about the sport to suggest ideas for the series.They should never got rid of Randy Bernard but they did. Tony is right traditionalists like myself will be 100 percent against a road course race especially in May. It use to be the month of May now its the week of May so now there going to throw two races at IMS in May.Well I guess times have changed and this is the stuff that happens and its all about money the Hulman-George family would have more money had the not fgven TG and open check book and let him go threw a couple hundred million dollars.

    • snoopyo - Aug 16, 2013 at 4:14 PM

      Sorry messed up the last sentence, had they not given TG an open checkbook to blow threw a couple hundred million dollars.

  5. kitnamania13 - Aug 17, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    Here’s what Indycar needs for 2014 to regain its former popularity:
    1) A race on the IMS road course, which produced some of the best F1 races ever.
    2) A 9 Month offseason. Start with the Indy 500 in May and finish by Labor Day.
    3) Returns to legendary courses like San Jose, the Meadowlands parking lot, and downtown Miami.
    4) Double ticket prices for all events to make them more exclusive.

    Honestly, Indycar is the gift that keeps on giving. Great racing: check. Schadenfreude: double check. When they run themselves out of business, I don’t know what I’ll miss more.

    • kitnamania13 - Aug 17, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      Oops, posted my comment on the wrong article! I was referring to the post this morning about having an Indycar test on the road course. Either way, I have full confidence that Indycar will get it wrong for 2014, and part of me will be too in awe of their stupidity to to complain.

  6. bigdcart - Aug 18, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    Stop complaining. Believe me, if Belskus and Miles were proposing race in China, Dubai and India, that would be a big red flag. At least there some stability and compression in the schedule. These guys don’t want to rock the Randy boat, and it’s a good short term plan.

    • midtec2005 - Aug 19, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      “These guys don’t want to rock the Randy boat”

      Which makes it all that much more surprising that they fired him.

      I know options are limited for next year, but I have an idea that could be huge for a year or two later. It’s simple, if they can get just 100 more HP and race at the longest version of VIR. Those races could be legendary on Nurburgring proportions. Especially if they were 400 or 500 mile endurance races!

  7. htownracefan - Aug 19, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    Since when is Houston on the west coast? First Bud Selig thinks the Astros are a better fit in the AL West than the NL Central and now Houston is considered a West Coast Indycar Race? Last time I checked Houston was still in the Central Time Zone and actually closer to the East Coast than the West Coast? But that’s not the point of this article.

    Yes I agree that having an Indycar race on the IMS Road Course is a bad idea, but not nearly as bad as moving the Houston Race weekend to August. You don’t get much hotter than August in Houston. And to make matters works it’s not like the Houston Street Race is held in a park like Detroit with shade from trees or even a downtown area with shade provided by the buildings. The Houston race is held on a big wide open concrete parking lot with the only relief from the shade being tents or the indoor paddock area for the teams. I couldn’t imagine being a driver and sitting in the car when the air temperature is around 100. If the series wants to move the Houston race to avoid conflicts with football fine, just move it to the beginning of the year. Yes there might be a better chance of having it rain, but they could run the race when it is still to cold to run up north.

    An August Indycar Race in Houston makes as much since as an outdoor Super Bowl in someplace like Green Bay or New England.

    • midtec2005 - Aug 20, 2013 at 12:03 AM

      I must not have caught that when I read the article. You’re right, I can’t really think of a worse idea than that. Especially if it’s a doubleheader. Not only would drivers be passing out, but no fans would show up.

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