2nd race at Indy - Could not agree more (3rd Update) UPDATE #3 Another reader writes, Dear AR1.com, This makes so much sense, as your ideas would excite me as a fan. What do you do with the Houston race and Fontana race that is scheduled later in the year because of the heat? Cary Leimbach
Dear Cary, Remember the I wrote article about the schedule in January or February. We suggested Fontana run the weekend before the Super Bowl. That would give the track about six weeks between the IndyCar and NASCAR race. Not ideal, but the Fontana event is always going to be tough sell. And the focus there should be more about pulling a TV number than a large crowd. The Shell Houston Open will return to its usual pre-Masters spot on the schedule in 2014, i.e. early April, so a spring race in Houston (also sponsored by Shell) would have to work around that. Early March makes a lot of sense. Brian C.
05/06/13 Another reader writes, Dear AR1.com, I dislike being contrarian on this, but it seems I am. I concur with everything Brian Carroccio said in his article, that is until he got to the second Indy Car oval track part. Yes, to a second event at IMS but I contend a no to it being on the oval. Indy Car running a second event on the oval could be a glaring miscalculation. If a second Indy Car event is not feasibly held on the road course, then I would offer, don't do it at all. As always, right or wrong, my perspective is derived from a marketing one, not an operational one. In as few words as possible, here’s the reasoning:
1. For my entire adulthood and longer, the Indy 500 has been billed as “the greatest spectacle in racing.” To run a second Indy Car event at IMS would obviously change that long held tradition. Running a NASCAR event on the oval at IMS is not the same thing. NASCAR cars are significantly slower on IMS. The race is run, wisely, as a “400”, not to diminish THE “500” in race fans’ minds. Running a second Indy Car oval race, regardless of race distance, makes the “500” one of two “spectacles in racing”, a diluted marketing strategy. It also opens the possibility that the second event becomes more popular than the original. It’s very important to maintain primary focus on the event that made you what you are. For the Indy Car series, the Indy 500 is beyond normal considerations. It is unquestionably, the crown jewel of crown jewels.
2. I’ve always felt that the “Brickyard 400”, a second event on the IMS oval, was a marketing blunder, albeit not a financial one. I did not see much up-side for the IMS other than quick profit. The F1 race, on the road course, did not detract from the sanctity of the Indy 500 because it didn’t race on the same course.
3. The Indy Car series has always billed itself as the place for the best and most versatile drivers due to the fact that they compete on both ovals and road courses. Running a second event on IMS but on the road course enhances the concept that one needs to compete in both arenas to be an Indy Car champion.
4. In my earlier article on AR1, suggesting two distinct Indy Car divisions, one oval and one road course, with two distinct body kits required for each category, provides the road course event with a differentiation that would further distance it from "The 500" while enhancing the overall championship and the “best” drivers boast. Different looking body kits and the potential of some differing drivers from one event to the other adds more fodder for IMS to promote.
5. The two divisions racing on two distinct race courses provides a “reason”, a purpose, for having two events at IMS. A very important issue if each event is to maintain fan credibility and grow interest. After some time, if there are few distinctive reasons for two events, race fans will likely lose interest in one or the other.
6. The “mickey mouse” portions of the road course are what they are. If it can be changed relatively easily to improve it, no problem. But I’m confident that there are reasons why the lay-out is as it is. The track designers didn’t intentionally produce a “mickey mouse” course. Granted, it’s not perfect, but infield courses never are.
7. Under the lights? It’s inevitable, but I’d seriously consider it for The 500 before I would risk enhancing a second event over the original. And definitely, not for the “NASCAR Brickyard 400” pushing that event potentially higher up the totem pole. On this point, there is no argument. I would, if I could, when I could, jettison the NASCAR race.
Without a doubt, running two Indy Car events at IMS is a very serious consideration. The Indy 500, due to what it is, and has been, requires ample doses of debate before one crosses that bridge. In the end, there is a cause and effect that will be sustained for a very long time. Indy Car needs to make sure of the intended and unintended consequences before making a substantial change to the most important race on the Indy Car schedule, and one of the most important racing events in the world. It is after all, the “greatest spectacle in racing.” It’s critical that those in charge of Indy Car never forget that. Because one thing is certain, Indy Car surely knows the perils of making what might turn out to be, ill conceived changes. Brian C. Mackey, Mackey Marketing Group, Inc.
05/06/13 Dear AR1.com and Brian, Thanks for another great read. In its current state, IndyCar needs to try something to build some momentum. I have to agree, that another Indy oval event might be a worthwhile experiment. The fact that Formula One raced on that ridiculous road course was more a testament to Bernie Ecclestone’s ability to pick Tony George’s pocket than a endorsement of that track layout. On a different subject, Speed and some of the other motorsports media outlets have made light of the fact that AJ Foyt’s one car operation has won a race and were very successful in the last several events, and titans TCGR and Penske have not one a race this year. Low and behold , NASCAR’s now has a very similar “David vs. Goliath” story with David Ragan. John Swope, Hollidaysburg, Pa.
05/06/13 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Although I was one of the biggest skeptics when you first proposed a 2nd IndyCar race at the Indy Motor Speedway, after reading this morning's article by Brian Carroccio, the arguments he lays out makes it clear that is what the Hulman George family must do. When Anton George announced he was letting NASCAR into Indy in 1994 I knew it was a very very bad idea. I hope Mark Miles and Jeff Belkus read this article. It's time to kick all that other 'junk' out of IndyCar's Mecca. Michael Keating