Word on the Kentucky broadcast was that the 2011 schedule will be announced on Friday. Also hinted by Jenkins was that a very popular track would be added back to the schedule, which makes me think that a deal has been done to bring Milwaukee back. YAY!
So, what we know about next years schedule right now is that it will be the same as this years schedule except: Kansas, Chicago, Homestead and Watkins Glenn have been removed and Milwaukee, Baltimore and New Hampshire have been added. Also, it sounds like Las Vegas will be making the schedule as well. So if the schedule announced on Friday is what we expect it to be, we will have a 17 race schedule with the same split of ovals to road courses as this season (9 road/street, 8 ovals).
That said, Kentucky Speedway will be playing host to the IndyCar Series again next season, but on a different date. The speedway’s president was on Trackside this week and dropped that October 2nd would be the date. But next year’s date isn’t the only thing that is changing as the facility will be upgraded to 116,000 seats starting immediately. That is an addition of 50,000 seats over the current accommodations for 66,000 rear ends. This all in an effort to prepare for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race that has been given to the recently SMI’d track.
Bruton Smith was on the premesis this weekend to discuss the future plans for the facility and how IndyCar fits in to those plans. Bruton dropped that his desire would be that Kentucky and Las Vegas would close out the 2011 season for IndyCar and that negotiations to host the season closer at LVMS were going well.
Bruton did get very defensive when questioned about the rough, bumpy and weeper prone surface. If you recall, when SMI took over at Kentucky (2 years ago) Mr. Smith implied that significant work would be done to correct the weeper problems at the track, but no significant work has yet been done on the surface or the site drainage.
Regardless of the surface, Kentucky continues to put on some of the best racing on the IndyCar circuit, and the addition of Sprint Cup to the tracks schedule maY serve to heighten awareness of big time open wheel racing in Northern Kentucky. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Terrel Owens was riding in the 2-seater before the race in a helmet with a Bengals paint scheme.
One thing that is concerning though is that attendance to this years race was noticeably down. If SMI is the dream promoter for IndyCar events (as compared to ISC) then either the move to Labor Day weekend or the tracks lack of promotion are to blame for the poor attendance. Or, maybe IndyCar has a rude awakening in store for them at Kentucky next year when fans may choose to spend their dollars on NASCAR tickets instead.