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A winter series for IndyCar by 2015?

Aug 22, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT

Indianapolis 500 Getty Images

From my perspective, one of the biggest strikes against the IZOD IndyCar Series in recent times has been its unbearably long off-season period. For a series that is having to battle for fans at every turn, it makes absolutely no sense to disappear from the public eye for six months after the end of the season.

By the time the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg rolled around this past March to open the 2013 campaign, the IndyCar faithful were as restless as all get-out to see their league go back to business.

Perhaps this is why INDYCAR president of competition Derrick Walker, as part of his plan to increase the sport’s global audience, has outlined a series of off-season events that could lead to an winter championship by 2015 – or perhaps, even an overseas start to the official IndyCar Series season in January or February.

According to Autosport’s Gary Watkins, Walker’s argument for such a proposal is simple: It keeps the teams more busy outside of limited off-season test days, and it fills their coffers at a time of year where they could use some extra money.

Furthermore, a European-based group known as World Series Operations has apparently put forward a proposal for a five-race schedule known as the “IndyCar Global Challenge,” which would start at the end of 2014.

Certainly, an international winter series sounds like a nice idea. It would give the fans something to look forward to, and for the teams, it gives them something to work on – and perhaps a means to try out prospective drivers for the season to come.

And, it bears noting that perhaps it would make it easier for INDYCAR to end their official year in time to get out of the way of the all-conquering National Football League.

But one could also argue that INDYCAR’s biggest problems remain here at home and that it needs to settle those issues first before taking on other, more “global” projects.

Then there’s the obvious question of why INDYCAR just can’t find some warm-weather spots here in the States and have those go off in January as part of the official championship? No exhibitions, a full-tilt run from January to Labor Day, and then, a well-earned flop on the couch to watch some pigskin.

What do you think, readers? Do you feel that a global off-season series can be a benefit for INDYCAR? Or do you believe that they should steer clear of it until they’re on relatively better footing?

Leave your thoughts below, just keep ’em clean.

  1. indycarseries500 - Aug 22, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    As long as the checks clear, it couldn’t hurt.

  2. moezilla - Aug 22, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    Yes, please….

  3. snoopyo - Aug 22, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    This idea is way better then running on the INDY road course.I might be in the minority but I love this idea and I am all for INDYCAR to start the season in January or February and if they are looking for venues Surfers Paradise is a place they can go its Australia’s summertime down there and it is 90 degrees and remember the Australian Open tennis tournament is close to that time of year so weather would not be a problem there but it would come down to cost on that one. They could look into places like Surfers, Mexico City, or even Brazil.If we need an American venue look at a place like Fontana, Disney Speedway or get a Ft. Lauderdale race. We have issues here but INDYCAR is more appreciated by other countries then it is by Americans because we have a European group who now wants to be involved and the Brazilians seem to care about INDYCAR more then people here in America.Some American fans will not give it a chance because they have this I hate foreign drivers attitude and will not watch which is pathetic even though the most popular INDY 500 win in a long time was by TK this year.If the World Series Operation group is willing to help out and get the teams money then do it. The sport needs to grow anyway it can. A big problem here with INDYCAR is they market it terrible.

    • k0d3g3ar - Aug 25, 2013 at 8:23 PM

      I don’t know… The Indy road course was lots of fun when F1 was there.

      • muddytrane - Aug 28, 2013 at 12:57 AM

        It was fun from the standpoint of an F1 race being here but the Indy RC is the worst RC in the USA! It’s nothing more than a glorified Hot Wheels track! Was glad to hear Derrick Walker say during Sunday’s pre race that it would need MASSIVE changes for good racing and he is right!

    • muddytrane - Aug 28, 2013 at 12:54 AM

      Hey Snoopy! Great post (as always!) and agree with you almost 100%. The only disagreement is with Disney Speedway. Pretty bad oval that is only good for race school and is the equivilent to the Indy RC for being the worst in it’s catagory! But Surfer’s, Mexico City, Brazil, Phoenix, Las Vegas street race, maybe even Miller Motorsports Park would be great to start and finish the year off. Don’t really need a “winter” series just need to expand the calander to begin in late January/early February.

      • snoopyo - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:04 AM

        MUDDY My man how are ya? I wish the old oval in Rio was still open that was a great place and would be perfect the first year the crowd went crazy when Andre Ribeiro won but nothing was as good as Greg Moore’s move on Zanardi in turn one there. I bet if Rio was still around it would draw better oval attendance there then any of the ones here do.

  4. kitnamania13 - Aug 22, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Any winter series would need to be part of the championship. If that doesn’t happen, then they need to up the purses at least five-fold. If it doesn’t pay points or a decent amount of cash, why would the teams run the races?

  5. gbfan83 - Aug 22, 2013 at 11:14 PM

    At this point IndyCar has to try and do something. I’m all for what ever they decide, I would rather have them start early and have a domestic championship from January to September but in the words of Clark W. Griswold…”take a look around you, we’re on the threshold of hell”…Just do something IndyCar.

  6. indycar02 - Aug 23, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    i think it might be worth a try..

  7. k0d3g3ar - Aug 25, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    If you look at the countries of origin of the drivers in Indycar, you’ll find the vast majority are from outside of the USA. So why not bring races to where they are from? Their fans already have some skin in the game by having their hometown heros competing. Southern hemisphere is strong with Indy drivers – Will Power, Dixon, Briscoe, etc. would surely justify a Gold Coast race again. But also South Africa, and why not something in Argentina to capture the millions of Dakar fans that are down there in the first couple of weeks of January?

    As for US races, Phoenix in January is a festival. You have thousands of inbound motor car enthusiasts here for the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction. And I seem to remember really enjoying the streets of Las Vegas in the Champ Car days as a race track. Doing the downtown Vegas race was epic.

    These are all good winter locations for racing, not to mention Mexico City, etc.

    So yes, a Winter season would be awesome if it can be done cost effectively.

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