The IndyCar series schedule for 2010 was release last Friday. By now you have probably already laid eyes on it, but I wanted to give my thoughts next years lineup of events.
|Sunday, March 14||Brazil (city TBA)||TBD|
|Sunday, March 28||St. Petersburg, Fla.||1.8-mile street course|
|Sunday, April 11||Barber Motorsports Park||2.48-mile road course|
|Sunday, April 18||Long Beach, Calif.||1.968-mile street course|
|Saturday, May 1||Kansas Speedway||1.5-mile oval|
|Sunday, May 30||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||2.5-mile oval|
|Saturday, June 12*||Texas Motor Speedway||1.5-mile oval|
|Sunday, June 20||Iowa Speedway||.875-mile oval|
|Sunday, July 4||Watkins Glen International||3.37-mile road course|
|Sunday, July 18||Toronto||1.721-mile street course|
|Sunday, July 25||Edmonton, Alberta||1.973-mile airport course|
|Sunday, August 8||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course||2.258-mile road course|
|Sunday, August 22||Infineon Raceway||2.245-mile road course|
|Saturday, August 28*||Chicagoland Speedway||1.5-mile oval|
|Labor Day weekend||Kentucky Speedway||1.5-mile oval|
|Sunday, September 18||Twin Ring Motegi, Japan||1.5-mile oval|
|Sunday, October 2||Homestead-Miami Speedway||1.5-mile oval|
|* Denotes night race|
Long story short, it is pretty much the same as this years schedule except for a couple things. They dropped Milwaukee and Richmond and replaced them with Barber and Brazil. This brings the mix to 8 ovals and 9 road/street courses which makes it the first year that the IndyCar series will have more twisties than ovals.
If you recall, one of the reasons that the IRL gave for its formation was that CART was abandoning the ovals, but their schedule always had at least 6 ovals on it. Granted, I think the IRL wanted to continue at Milwaukee but was thwarted by the ongoing debacle between the Fair Board and their ever returning promoter who has yet to figure out how to make a business model that allows for him to pay the Fair Board’s exorbitant lease demands. Milwaukee may yet end up on the schedule if the new promotion group can get their ducks in a row, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one. I would think that any chance for Milwaukee to end up with an IRL race or either of their previous NASCAR feeder series events hinges on all three of these series getting paid their full sanctioning fees for 2009 and contractual assurances that they will get paid in 2010.
Richmond chose to fall off the IRL’s schedule. They felt that the on track product did not justify them extending the relationship, and after this year’s event where fans were leaving the stands in droves and drivers were apologizing to the fans for the bad show, I can’t blame them.
We are left with six 1.5 Mile tracks, one short track (Iowa) and Indy. For a series who lauds the fact that they have such a variety of tracks on their schedule, the ovals have a terrible sameness. It is beyond me how Homestead continues to get a race when they draw less attendance than this years open test at Barber. Motegi at least adds some variety in the schedule with its oddly egg shaped track layout.
There will be four road course events, four street course events and one airport track in 2010.
It is no shock that Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama was added to the schedule. It has been mentioned for a long time as the most likely addition to the schedule, and for good reason. They were able to attract 10,000 people to the track for an open test day. Beyond that, the track is set in a beautiful park like setting, complete with giant spider sculptures. How can you go wrong?
One of the normal criticisms levied against the track is that the layout will not promote passing for the IndyCar’s. It remains to be seen how difficult overtaking will be at the track, but one thing is for certain, it can’t be any worse than the lack of overtaking at Long Beach.
Also added to the schedule is an undetermined street course race in Brazil. Three cities have been mentioned as possible homes for this new race, but the most commonly mentioned were Ribreo Preto and Rio de Janeiro. Earlier it was rumored that their might be two events in Brazil, but that talk has died down. One thing is for certain, the IRL is banking heavily on this event. Reports state that the teams will receive a huge cash infusion for participation and the League will get a monster sanctioning fee.
-I don’t like the fact that the schedule is broken up the way it is. We start with 4 twisties, followed by 4 ovals, 5 twisties, then end with 4 ovals. It may be financially beneficial for the teams to not have to be switching car configurations all the time, but the TV audience may lose interest if they go for weeks on end without an oval or road/street event.
-I hope Milwaukee gets its act together and lands a spot on the 2010 calendar. This has been part of the National Championship for open wheel racing forever and it is one of the few low banked tracks left that really showcases a driver’s talent. It needs to be on the schedule and the Fair Board/Promoter need to submit to a public flogging for this debacle.
-The IRL has been in talks with New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the last couple of years about a return to Loudon. With Richmond and Milwaukee gone, this would have been an excellent short track to add to the schedule. Either they could not come to terms on a date or a sanctioning fee but Loudon made some pretty rude remarks when they were not included for 2010. Loudon is not interested in getting back on the schedule if the IRL is planning on adding competition in the area. There has been lots of talk about a street course race around Gillette stadium (think NFL Patriots) in 2012 and Loudon may have been asking for an exclusivity agreement for the region that the IRL was rightfully unwilling to grant.
-A long oval needs to be added in the future. Fontana or Michigan needs to get back into the mix! However, the IndyCar series is loathe to go to tracks where the stands look really empty. And ISC is loathe to give them favorable dates at some of its prime tracks.
-Belle Isle announced a few days ago that they would not be returning to the schedule in 2010. Kentucky has now taken the Labor Day weekend date where Belle Isle was originally slotted in 2008. Personally, I hope the Belle Isle race is dead for good. We already have Long Beach, we don’t need any more races where passing is nonexistent.
-The IRL has had great success at new locations that have not had any experience with CART/CCWS/IRL in the past. St. Petersburg and Iowa are prime examples of terrific events that will remain on the schedule for years to come. Barber already looks like it may carve itself a long term spot on the schedule and the Brazil street race may also do the same. In the future, instead of returning to traditional CART/CCWS events, the IRL may have better results in going to venues that have no history with CART/CCWS/IRL. Examples would be Sebring, Lime Rock, Road Atlanta and Miller Motorsports Park.
-Edmonton drew a great crowd this year, but after losses around 5 million Canadian dollars last year, their long term future on the schedule past the end of their initial 3-year contract depends heavily on their ability to turn a profit. Currently the city is subsidizing the race and the promoter was promising to the city that losses would be less than 1.5 million Canadian dollars. We will wait to see how the finances turned out for this years event. Further, the airport is shutting down and their is talk of converting the it into a permanent racing facility.