The INDYCAR Series is “ going, going,…back, back…to Cali”!
Yes, I never thought I would love to see the day I referenced the Notorious B.I.G. . Then again, how many INDYCAR fans never thought the series would return to California Speedway? However we learned earlier in the week the series came to an agreement to race again at the 2 mile oval.
For fans of ovals this is a welcome announcement, not only a oval is added to make up for the loss of the Twin Ring from the schedule. It is also a long overdue return to an oval that is more than a 1.5 mile layout. (Other than Indianapolis Motor Speedway of course.)
While this is a great facility for fans of big ovals, it also poses a few problems. Most notably the last few open wheel races at California had really weak turnout. The last two open wheel events there combined is still less than the poor turnouts for NASCAR Sprint Cup races there.
This brings me to my first point. Since Randy Bernard took over as President, ISC (the France family) seemed to quickly go into panic mode over the somewhat minor improvement in the series ratings and attendance figures. They yanked the series out of Chicagoland and legendary Watkins Glen. It was well known the last few years ISC had no interest in promoting the INDYCAR events at their venues.
When I went to Watkins Glen last year I could count on one hand all the billboards for the INDYCAR race I saw in upstate New York. (I have a few fingers unused on that hand as well.) So why is ISC so interested in the series again?
Well many die hard INDYCAR fans will quickly point to the poor turnout NASCAR has at California Speedway. (I know AAA Auto Club Speedway, yada, yada, yada.) INDYCAR has a strong presence already with the Grand Prix in Long Beach. So ISC must feel they can make up for their losses with an INDYCAR race.
Then there is the Philadelphia sports fan in me (cynical personality) that feels this could be a ploy by the France family to only make NASCAR look better (as their attendance & TV ratings continue a slow but steady decline over the last five years). They could again do a half-you know what job at promoting the race, again. Let it be a total flop with lower attendance than NASCAR, then turn around and say, See INDYCAR is still not as popular as NASCAR. We still have bigger crowds because we are the most popular motorsports series in the world!
Yes, they do claim they are the worlds “best” and most popular. Just don’t tell FIA or this little racing series called F1.
So this is a nice addition, but don’t put all the proverbial eggs in the California basket. The series needs more superspeedways on the schedule. Most old time fans agree, they need a return to the 500 mile Triple Crown.
Obviously the crown jewel is the Indy 500. California Speedway could be another event in that. Of course, this means the series still needs another super speedway. Again I bring up my home track, Pocono Raceway.
All the naysayers in the offseason were debunked when major safety improvements were recently added to Pocono. The management of Pocono is a younger group of family members with a vision for a more state of the art, and safe Pocono.
The “Tricky Triangle” is one of the most unique and difficult super speedways in the world. More importantly for the INDYCAR Series, it would put them in both the Philadelphia and New York City media markets. (Two of the biggest markets in America, both important if the series should wish to become the TOP racing series in America again.)
However I am not alone in thinking INDYCAR needs to return to Pocono. Mario Andretti was quoted sometime ago in RACER magazine as saying it should be back on the schedule. A few weeks ago I got Michael Andretti’s Twitter account to go on the record Pocono needs to be back. Even Davey Hamilton during Friday practice at Iowa a few weeks ago, went on the record saying he thinks INDYCAR should be at Pocono.
I know some people at INDYCAR would be very interested in returning to Pocono. Also, I am aware of the fact management of Pocono Raceway have been monitoring the conversation of INDYCAR at Pocono.
However, the two sides may never meet and talk without one thing, fan input. Fans need to keep making noise, in e-mails to the series and Pocono. Make sure when you are on Twitter you put @PoconoRaceway in any tweet about you wanting to see the series return there. (The track President himself often reads the mentions Pocono gets. He like Randy Bernard is very fan friendly.)
The Triple Crown will only return when YOU the fan speaks up!