The Missed Shift – SCORE Scores! IndyCar Snores?
I came across an article that SCORE inked a contract to run the San Felipe 250 for the next three years. I think desert racing is insanely fun, for spectators and competitors alike. I’m sure part of the appeal for me comes from growing up in the desert, and running dunes or rock-crawling were commonplace. I knew who Ivan Stewart was long before his name was on a video game. So this was pretty cool news to me.
For those that don’t follow off-road racing, SCORE is the sanctioning body for endurance desert racing events, the most notable being the Baja 1000, a point-to-point race across some of the most challenging terrain northern Mexico has to offer. Yes, this is the same Baja 1000 that has fans constructing booby traps to potentially interfere with the competitors. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend Dust to Glory, a documentary about the 2003 event. Sal Fish only recently retired as the SCORE president, so under new leadership, it’s good to see that SCORE is expanding.
SCORE has published their 6-race schedule, starting in 2014:
- Feb. 27-Mar. 2 28th Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250
San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico (one loop, Approx. 250 miles)
- April 25-27 2nd SCORE Imperial Valley 250
Plaster City, California (three laps, Approx. 249 total miles)
- June 5-8 46th Tecate SCORE Baja 500
Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico (one loop, Approx. 500 miles)
- July 24-27 3rd SCORE Reno 500
Tahoe Reno Motorplex-Reno, Nevada (multi-lap, Approx. 419 total miles)
- Sept. 25-28 Inaugural SCORE Desert Challenge
Location in Southern California TBA (two-day short-course race, Approx. 125 total miles)
- Nov. 12-16 47th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000
Ensenada, Baja California to La Paz, Baja California Sur (point-to-point, Approx. 1,130 miles)
It’s a cool schedule, and not really different from the 2013 schedule, save for the addition of San Felipe in late February. The race locations are all races that have been run for decades, on and off. The one thing that caught my eye is that the SCORE season is longer than the IndyCar season, which has three times as many races. Can anyone identify the problem here?
Let’s be honest, here. As a sanctioning body, SCORE pushes the envelope of legitimacy. It’s really a couple of guys who hang out in Mexico and drink beer a lot that would like to see trucks and motorcycles go by really fast once in a while. It’s about as free-wheeling as you can get in motorsports, and a source of much of the appeal. It strikes me as odd that a couple of guys in flip flops on the Mexican coast can put together a better, more satisfying race calendar than the building full of marketing heads and whomever at IndyCar HQ.
As fans, we’re being told that this is another transitional year, and Derrick Walker is talking to drivers and that good things are coming. IndyCar fans have been force-fed this drivel since the reunification! While I understand how IndyCar painted themselves into this box and I’m getting sick of the revolving door at the HQ. There needs to one person or group in charge, and that person or group needs to make IndyCar a better and healthier series. It would be nice if that one person weren’t Tony George, mmm-kay.
There are venues here fans are clamoring for an IndyCar race, like Richmond, Phoenix, Road America, Michigan, Portland, to name a few. Locally (and probably selfishly), a race at Circuit of the Americas would be well-received, but there may be pushback from Formula 1 that stems back to when IndyCar was relevant and respected. There are opportunities to expand IndyCar into markets that want IndyCar present, yet no deals can be put together. There are still a number of venues that not only provide quality racing that could easily accommodate an IndyCar date.
The problem, as I see it, is that IndyCar believes itself to be a property worth a seven-figure sanctioning fee. With the excellent racing it has produced over the past couple races, it certainly has the potential to become worth that much, but maybe right now it is not. In this race fan’s opinion, IndyCar is missing an opportunity to grow. Cut the venues a deal on the sanctioning fee. Or maybe work out a package deal with SMI and/or ISC on a few races.
I am the first to admit that I don’t know the ins and outs of how all this works. I’m not an expert on the business of racing, but it seems to me that it would be a no-brainer for any race series that wants to get notice from spectators, fans and media should get more races on the calendar. Let IndyCar race at different venues and let the word spread that IndyCar has great drivers and great racing.
Maybe IndyCar is scared of sharing the same time slots as NASCAR’s three touring series and Formula 1 and TUSCC and every other motorsports “property” on TV.
Perhaps it would be problematic to get a support series for some events.
I can think of potential issues for some of these venues, especially Phoenix. I’m not oblivious to that. I can’t help but think that IndyCar is in a “transitional” or “growing” mode. As such, they should be able to flex their schedule enough to work dates for quality races into the calendar.
Surely, I can’t be the one who sees the answer to many of IndyCar’s problems is pretty obvious, and right in front of their faces?
And yes, I called you Shirley. Deal with it.