So IndyCar is toying with the idea of taking the traveling circus abroad during the off season in an attempt to spread influence and maybe even earn the teams some extra cash. Obviously this is nothing more than an idea and I don’t want people to think the negative Nancy police are here, but I find the idea to be ridiculous on a few different levels. While I would love to see IndyCar race overseas, the justification for doing so seems weak at the moment. I am also a firm believer that before we can extend ourselves into foreign lands again, we need to establish a stronger base in the United States.
I think the first thing that needs to happen before we consider the global challenge or whatever they will call it, is how can we strengthen a very weak schedule that we have in the US. Let’s face it; the schedule is pretty damn bad. While the double weekends are a cool idea for the ticket holder, the fact is that I would use the same excuse if I had a schedule that was a bit weak to say the least. A move overseas cannot even be contemplated until COTA, Mazda Laguna Seca, Road America, and probably Watkins Glen are added to the schedule. As far as ovals, Phoenix, Gateway (when operational again), and maybe even Michigan would be fantastic additions to satisfy both sides of the aisle. Regardless, you have to visit the premiere tracks in your own country before you can expand. I understand the IndyCar brass is working that issue, but you can’t talk about global racing in a serious tone until that issue is resolved and operational practice.
What I do like is that by going abroad, you may introduce new sponsors to the smaller teams which could be a good thing. Here is the problem though; a global expansion would take a large amount of cash to fund a separate overseas operation for the smaller teams. If the teams can’t afford to equip aero kits, how can we afford to race in Europe or the Middle East?
It seems as though the folks at IndyCar are taking a page out of the Aussie V8s and German DTM book by traveling around the globe to a couple select locations to get folks excited about your product. The thing with IndyCar is that we need to finish establishing a solid base in our own country before expanding the series into a global capacity. I understand it is merely an idea at this time and we may or may not see a move in the future to racing abroad, but IndyCar needs to think this through and maybe not even mention it before causing a serious injury to the long term domestic growth of the sport.