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.
6 Thoughts to “IndyCar – 2011 Schedule and Kentucky”
GO T.O! I’m from the Cincinnati area, so I’m allowed to say that….
That being said, how do you feel about the Road/Oval ratio? I find it ironic that one of the three fundamentals that this series was built on was more oval racing. Now you can argue that the series had always planned on putting road races in once the series had a good oval basis, but this will be the second year running that they are running on more road races than ovals.
Now… Before the critics come out, let me defend myself by saying I enjoy watching road races as much as I love oval races. I think that a 50/50 split is pretty cool, because you add some intrigue with guys like Will Power who dominate the roads, but aren’t so great on the oval, and it makes it hard to hold on to the Overall Points Championship, which is what we have been seeing these last few ovals. And lastly, I LOVED the Sau Paulo circuit with the nearly 1 mile backstretch, and I think the Baltimore circuit will be an extremely well advertised event.
That being said, I think that the series should have more oval racing. Anyway, what do you think?
Bernard and others within the league have said that a 50/50 schedule is a priority, and the shape of the Road to Indy program shows how the leadership values the role of oval track racing to the sport. The sad part is that there just aren’t a whole lot of ovals out there clamoring for an IndyCar race. Look at the crowd that was at Kentucky this year. It was pathetic, and that was with a strong promoter. I think it may take a couple of years for us to get back to a true 50/50 split. We really aren’t that far off, and the road circuits we have are pretty darn good for the most part.
I wish it were 50/50, but 9 and 8 is pretty close. I liked the original goal of the IRL (american drivers, ovals, no engine leases, cost effective engines you could buy out of the GM performance catalog) but the execution was sorely lacking and as Doug pointed out, even though the oval product is great, the only places it seems to work is Texas and Indy. Its not that I am an oval snob, but I disliked how few were on the CART calendar and I really love oval track racing, but the road/street courses add great flavor and diversity to the series.
Oval product was also good at Chicago…but is dead and gone I’m afraid…
What Randy Bernard understands, It is time to break away from NASCAR. It didn’t work. Tony never got the support he was promised. The league must have its own identity. A return to turbochargers is a good thing. Having Loudon and Milwaukee back shows a push in the right direction. We lose a few high banked and pick up 2 flat tracks. fair enough.
They need to do something next year to spark some serious interest, one more year of the current Dallara isn’t going to be enough on its own. Cotman needs to a get a rolling turbo prototype ASAP. They need to start promoting the series around it next year. Let Mario Give the new turbo prototype a shake down run during 500 pole day. Demo it during intermission at the texas duel races, Demo run it at Mid-O before the race. Run it around the inner harbour in Baltimore before the ALMS race. Promote the new look and sound, especially in new or reclaimed markets. They need to create a buzz.
The time is now.
What ATB said… ^^^ I doubt that they’ll get a prototype turned out that fast, but it’s exactly what they SHOULD do.
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