All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray when it comes to INDYCAR and the ISC. The bridges have been damaged but not completely burned as many of the ISC tracks found their way off of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar schedule. However, a little ray of California sunshine has perhaps given us an opportunity to repair some of the damage and the dream of having a more robust calendar and better ISC relationship going forward.
The Auto Club Speedway and INDYCAR announced on Tuesday that a night race would happen in 2012 which adds another oval to the mix and keeps the ever precious 50/50 mix intact. California, much like its Michigan counterpart, is a very high banked wide open oval. The track allows for mammoth speed in open-wheel racing but also holds a dark ghost from races past with the very untimely death of Canadian legend Greg Moore. The facts are the circuit embodies what INDYCAR wants to do. Extremely high speeds and multi groove racing found nowhere else. Why go to Daytona or Talladega when we can get the same type of product in Fontana? Once you begin to reach into the 230-240mph region, that is as fast as the machines need to be going. Anything else is suicide and introduces some real safety issues for sure. The track will pose a challenge to the 2012 chassis as an impact or aerial crash will nearly be guaranteed at that kind of speed. So how safe is the 2012 tub? I guess we will find out.
Over the Texas weekend I told Tyler over on IndyCar Garage Weekly that I thought California HAD to return as one of the new ovals. While the smaller ovals do offer us spectacular racing, people will be drawn to the mega speeds these cars will hit on track and the on track product should be just as good. Even more though, this now offers a chance for the ISC and INDYCAR to mend the damage and work to bring back some awesome facilities. ISC has Richmond, Kansas, Chicagoland, Phoenix, Fontana, and Watkins Glen in the stable. ISC was originally removed due to lack of promotion and really bad attendance. One thing that MUST be done by both parties involved is promotion. It would be easy to strictly blame the ISC for the promotion issue but INDYCAR must work equally hard to see these events become successful. You have a lot of seats at these facilities given the NASCAR races, you simply cannot leave too many open seats at this California race. A promoter must be found that can advertise the speed and the multiple grooves. This is truly where you can lay claim to the “fastest drivers on the planet” as these constant speeds sustained are something you can really sell.
So while there is much to be done in mending the relationship, the California addition is a positive start. Stay away from stupid gimmicks and just let the race happen. Promote the hell out of the speed element and offer competitive ticket packages as well. I would go as far as to say stop giving Vegas tickets out and hand out California tickets! The series MUST make the most of this to open up Watkins Glen and maybe even Kansas from the ISC. As much as the Iowa race rocked, doing a two time gimmick is unsat and potentially tapping back into some ISC markets like Kansas City and upstate New York will do more for the series in the long run. That is if you give the markets a reason to watch. The IICS is trying to rebuild some “clientele”, that means shoving your product down people’s throats and make them appreciate what it is you have to offer.