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To Mario Andretti, IndyCar’s 2014 schedule is “not plausible”

Nov 16, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT

IndyCar Testing Pocono Auto Racing AP

When Mario Andretti speaks, you listen.

When Mario Andretti disagrees with something, you listen even more intensely.

When Mario Andretti calls the 2014 IndyCar schedule “not plausible,” you have to pause and realize the magnitude of the statement.

One of the living legend’s many roles is serving as an ambassador at the Circuit of the Americas, but I had the chance to catch up with him in the paddock earlier today and he did not mince his words about his frustration with the condensed schedule.

“It’s not plausible. I’ll fight Mark Miles on this the whole way. It’s diminishing the series,” Andretti said.

“A season schedule should not end in August. It’s never happened before. You can’t be worrying about ceding to college football or the NFL. You can’t be taken seriously unless we’re like F1 or NASCAR with the season going to November.”

Andretti also doubts the possible “international series” will come to fruition. And if it does, it would be more of a slap in the face to IndyCar’s regular season than a real boon.

“This ‘mini’ international series is a real ‘pie in the sky’ idea to appease the owners,” Andretti said. “We can’t have a ‘mini’ series. What does that accomplish?”

Other drivers have expressed private concerns about the, at the moment, seven-month offseason slated between August 2014 and March 2015.

But when a legend such as Andretti expresses them without reservation, it’s a big deal.

  1. f1fan1 - Nov 16, 2013 at 6:20 PM

    I find nothing “plausible” about the current iteration of IRL/Indycar as a whole. As long as it is owned/operated by the Hulman-George family, the entire series is a non-starter. Fix that issue and you can get to work making a serious comeback that former AOW fans may actually embrace and support. Until then, further into the abyss it goes.

    • rho1953 - Nov 16, 2013 at 10:26 PM

      Well then, don’t watch. I find the series quite competitive and entertaining, but I agree with Mario. That schedule is absurd, and I want more ovals. Indycar cannot survive as a road course series.

      • dumbace - Nov 19, 2013 at 2:06 PM

        Don’t Watch? Idiot, Isn’t that exactly what the problem is… no one is watching.
        And they call me the Dumbace

  2. Jeff - Nov 16, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    Meh, whatever.
    I have a lot of respect for Mario and admire him. But it’s not like the current version of IndyCar, in its current format, is winning over fans. Something needs to be done, the status quo isn’t.
    So a condensed season seems plausible to me to try get fans back in the IndyCar fold.

  3. mrhammerhands - Nov 16, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    I’m sure the shortened season is the result of no value in the television contract other than that race they have in May. Perhaps the only salvation is to go to Pay Per View, maybe they could start PAYING fans to watch! After 50 years of following open wheel racing and despite the best season of racing in years, I’m about to give the sport the Will Power double-fisted salute.

  4. worknman24hours - Nov 17, 2013 at 12:39 AM

    I agree with Mario wholeheartedly.

    To be a valid racing series, there has to be enough races spread across enough time to make it a hell of a lot of work to win it.

    The ‘condensed” racing schedule simply says, “I don’t have any faith in the product and I won’t work to promote it.”

    Sell the Indycar brand to someone who will actually fight to make it better-NOT SMALLER.

  5. snoopyo - Nov 17, 2013 at 10:09 PM

    Mario should be running the series along with a few other former drivers like Parnelli Jones, Dan Gurney, and Uncle Bobby. It would never have come to this if some idiot didn’t decide to have a dream, vision, belief that he should be the dictator of the sport and oh yeah that 25/8 rule.If its not broken don’t fix it.CART had the right idea and the 500 was the biggest it had ever been in the early 90s. The series needs to be ran by people who care and most of all know what the heck they are doing and the people who own the series don’t care and don’t have a clue on what to do. I hope Mario does fight Miles on this. The racing has been great and there are some darn good drivers out there but the people who own it are clueless. It was a dumb move to fire Randy Bernard thats for sure.

  6. neilblower - Nov 18, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    Mario is a legend and in any discussion of the best driver in history there are only two contenders for best ever Andretti and Foyt. My respect for him is huge. That being said of you look back at what Mario has said in the past he has often been wrong. Mario was sure the IRL would fail because of the star power of CART. And last time I checked he was wrong, though the current series looks more like CART than the original IRL, and the proof of this is that the series is owned by the Hulman George family and not ran by Chris Pook. Andretti also said that the US Grand Prix in Indianapolis would be so huge that is would hurt the Indy 500 because F1 was the biggest sport in the world. He was wrong. (I am certain Andretti does not remember this while he is promoting the new US Grand Prix in Austin yet I have an old Autoweek from around 1999 that says different).

    I do not yet know if Andretti is right or wrong about the schedule, honestly unless any of us are expert prognosticators no one does. But before you go around calling Miles an idiot you should consider his past success. Miles is a legend in the Indianapolis area from helping Lugar become mayor and Quail become a senator to preparing Indy for the Pan-am games in three instead of four years to being the president of tennis and helping Indy get the Super Bowl he has rarely failed. He has also put a good team in place with people like Derrick Walker in charge of the competition side of the series. Plus for all of you Hulman George family haters no one with either last name has an ACTUAL say in what happens in the series right now.

    Plus I seem to remember all of those who miss the genius Randy Bernard were freaking out this time last year because of hating the double header street races and the month long gap schedule gap in September. Everything Bernard tried failed (except possibly the double headers) he was a hard worker and better than George, but still a failure. His credibility with the owners died with Dan Wheldon. Miles in spite of Mario is Indycar’s last chance.

    • neilblower - Nov 18, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      I think I meant Dan Quale not Quail or still could be wrong, I hate being an online mis-speller

      • kitnamania13 - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:08 AM

        It’s potatoe

    • worknman24hours - Nov 18, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      neilblower, great post.

      I guess that Miles is looking at the present available cash from the sponsorship the series has now and is saying ,”This is the races we can afford to put on now.”

      That’s sad but the facts are, that without some very big sponsors coming in to rebrand the series to them so the races can be paid for to set up, Indycar will have to get smaller or be no racing series at all.

      I hope that doesn’t happen.

  7. Jeff - Nov 18, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    CART is out of business.
    The racing series’ that are popular now, F1 and NASCAR, have dictators. Owners running the show doesn’t work.
    Dan Gurney’s grand idea failed, precisely because the owners fought among themselves. They didn’t follow his white paper to the T. If they had, it might not have gotten to Tony George wanting to take American open-wheel racing back to its roots.
    Blame the owners, they are the ones who got Bernard fired. They’re trying to take over again, just like they did in 1979.

    • manik56 - Nov 19, 2013 at 9:24 PM

      CART would be alive and well if Tony George take the 500 and run. The winner of the split was always going to be the series with the 500. If there was never an IRL we would be in a much better place as IndyCar fans. But there was so we are where we are. Things could always be worse. At least I have 16 or so races to watch every year.

      • Jeff - Nov 20, 2013 at 6:02 AM

        Agree manik56, and we’d be in a much better place too if they’re had never been a CART in the first place.

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