With the news that the IZOD IndyCar Series (IICS) will be returning to Loudon next year, the dreaded NASCAR track disease that we here at Open Paddock said was a series debilitating syndrome may finally be going away.
It is true that we here at the site have been very critical of the IICS and their schedule that consists mainly of the cookie cutter NASCAR tracks. For one, they show next to no attendance figures, and they also do not promote “drivers” racing but instead a true test of engineering skill. One of the refreshing scenes from the Iowa Race was not only the amount of fans that packed the stands, but the fact that Tony Kanaan was able to take victory because he is a good driver. It has been obvious for some time that Andretti Autosport is not the juggernaut they once were. However victories at both Long Beach and Iowa show that they have talented drivers in Tony Kanaan and Ryan Hunter-Reay. This is one of the reasons we welcome New Hampshire back to the schedule. It offers us the ability to see really good drivers win and not the same Penske/Ganassi oval show we see when we go to places like Texas that are 100% throttle with the driver having to just turn the car around the track. Not to say the driver skill does not have to be good there, but you get the point. One of the reasons that NASCAR is terrible IMHO is the fact that nearly every track is the same style. They have a ton of ovals with only a few showing any unique aspects. This makes them boring for the most part and really no different from week to week. That is one thing the IICS needed to do to help get them back on the map. Get away from the boring long ovals and focus on bringing cars to the smaller ovals as well. Now every week we have a different feel. A few road/street courses that are very good, a few very fast ovals that are fun to watch and now the short oval that produces the best racing we have seen in the series for some time. Along with the unique dynamic of the short oval is the market that we see. Hello Northeastern United States. With a street race in Baltimore, a short oval in New Hampshire and a road course at Watkins Glen, the IICS now is developing a footprint in a market place that has very little massive motorsport.
The IICS continues to scrape and fight to make an identity for themselves. Something that makes them more appealing than NASCAR or less circus like (F1). Having a wide and dynamic schedule will only further that effort. We now need to take a step back and look at some of the tracks that don’t bring much to the table. Kansas, Edmonton are just a couple that come to mind. The series continues to promote their drivers as celebrities and point out the fact that they drive a multitude of different tracks. It is refreshing that the series has actively looked to place “drivers” tracks on the schedule to further statement. Now about that chassis…:)