IndyCar is spinning its wheels with Texas races
The Indianapolis 500 will never again be the one-day monster it once was, and the Izod IndyCar Series lives as a niche, but the series' departure from Fort Worth is not inevitable.
|After test there earlier, the new car is expected to race well at TMS|
It just feels like it's stuck.
The IndyCar Series has been playing Texas Motor Speedway since 1997. Yet it always feels like the next IndyCar race in Texas is the last IndyCar race.
Between the lethal speeds generated on TMS' high banks, a fan base that seems stagnant and, now, the addition of a new Houston race, it's more evidence that the series' regional presence is uncertain.
After all of these years, the series, outside for one day in May, is not sure what to sell, how to sell or who to sell to.
Earlier this year, the IndyCar Series announced plans for a road-course race near Reliant Stadium in Houston to run in the fall of 2013. TMS general manager Eddie Gossage was not exactly thrilled with the news.
"Yeah, it's an issue. It doesn't think it is, but we certainly know it is," said Gossage, whose track operates on one-year contracts with the series. "It's something we have to think about the impact, if any, and figure out what it means going forward. Other than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we have been the longest partners of the IndyCar circuit. No one, other than Indy, draws a crowd like us.
"I do think there is a lot of common ground, and I will assume we will be a part of their schedule."
Reading between the lines, Gossage sounds like a man who wants TMS to be treated with a little bit more love.
By adding a race about four hours from TMS, the IndyCar Series is taking TMS for granted.
Gossage fears an already small fan base might pick the Houston date as its open-wheel race of choice instead of making the trip to Fort Worth for the Firestone 550.
He points to the decreasing attendance at NASCAR's Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis, which he thinks is in direct correlation to the new race in Kentucky about one month before.
"Any time you put any two events of similar nature [close together] you are going to have some cannibalization," Gossage said.
Former IndyCar driver Davy Jones doesn't buy that.
He said, "Think about how many tracks are located within four hours of each other in NASCAR."
The IndyCar Series' counter to Gossage's fear is that the race in Fort Worth is an oval, whereas the race in Houston is on a road course, and that this region is big enough with an ample number of race fans to support two events.
When the Indy Racing League was in a full-blown war of attrition with the now defunct CART series, it was TMS that welcomed Tony George and treated his IRL circuit like NASCAR.
Gossage has always wanted his race to be the next date after the Indianapolis 500. From 1997 to 2005, Gossage had it this way until Texas was bumped back a week.
Then there is the very hush-hush issue of the track itself. More at Star Telegram