Walker: IndyCar considering overseas races in 2015 (Update 5) UPDATE #5
The 2014 IndyCar schedule is a "transitional" calendar that could open the series to extensive international events in 2015 and beyond, IndyCar's top executive told USA TODAY Sports.
|Why Tony George stopped IndyCar from continuing in Surfers Paradise is beyond belief.|
Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., which oversees the Izod IndyCar Series, said the compact, 18-race, March-to-August schedule will eliminate lengthy periods of downtime during the season.
"The strategic move here is to condense the schedule," Miles said. "The point is to make the season more compact, which opens it up to international events before and after the North American part of the schedule. Frankly, we want to avoid a situation like we had this year, where we waited a month between races near the end of the season."
Miles' larger goal is to secure a handful of races in the southern hemisphere before the start of the North American portion of the schedule, then develop a Pacific Rim series after the North American season. Thus, a Labor Day weekend season finale next year at Fontana, Calif. That will come about a month and a half earlier than the 2013 finale.
"We want continuity and consistency," Miles said. "I don't think it's possible to race every week without a week off in between because of the demand it places on teams, but we want to be as close to that as possible."
The biggest surprise on the calendar, which will be officially released Thursday night during a live show on NBC Sports Network, is the absence of a street race in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that has been part of the IndyCar schedule since 2010. Miles indicated another Brazil race might emerge, perhaps as early as 2015. USA Today09/01/13 With the North American portion of the IndyCar Series schedule nearly secure for 2014, IndyCar boss Mark Miles said Sunday he’s about to focus on organizing two sets of international packages for 2015.
One set of races would be held in late winter, the other early in fall. The first would be part of the IndyCar Series championship, the other would be a set of exhibition races.
Both are designed to extend the IndyCar Series’ reach and revenue.
“We’re not taking anything away (from the current schedule), we’d be adding to it,” Miles said.
Ideally, he said, there are two or three international races per set, with the late-winter races held in the Southern Hemisphere and the fall races in Asia/Australia. Indy Star08/23/13 IndyCar boss Mark Miles has made it no secret he's going to explore taking IndyCar out of North America for a series of big money, non-points races and his lieutenant, Derrick Walker, wants to make it clear this is in its planning stage at the moment. IndyCar has not made any firm commitments with groups or tracks or countries yet, Walker says, but a limited international element is part of the series' long-term plans.
“It's something Mark has been talking about and we're definitely look out for great opportunities to show case our special brand of American open-wheel racing overseas,” said Walker, the president of operations and competition for IndyCar.
Speaking in response to a story by AUTOSPORT's Gary Watkins, which reported a European group called World Series Operations supposedly has a plan for an IndyCar Global Challenge, Walker insists that IndyCar is not represented by any other parties, that it is taking directly with tracks and promoters who have interest in IndyCar.
In CART's heyday, races in Australia, England, Germany and Brazil were staged with varying degrees of success and IndyCar currently runs in Sao Paulo. An attempt to race in China fell apart in 2012 but Walker believes there's definitely a market for foreign events.
“I think we have proven through the years that we are a very portable series and our formula appeals to a lot of people around the world,” said the longtime car owner who joined IndyCar a few months ago.
“We're not a threat to Formula 1 nor are we trying to be – I think we compliment them and we probably should be working closer together as we have a lot more in common that any other major racing series, and of course we shared a lot of history together.”
Walker, who began his career as a mechanic for Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham F1 team in the early 1970s, has requested a face-to-face with his old boss and the F1 czar during the United States Grand Prix at Austin in November.
“We should be thinking strategic and go places F1 wouldn't want to go or can't go” he said. “And we shouldn't be trying to compete with each other in the international arena because we're all part of the same DNA.” Racer.com08/23/13 With IndyCar considering racing overseas in 2015, it may be worthwhile to revisit this article written by AR1's Brian Carroccio this past February. Carroccio makes a persuasive argument that overseas IndyCar races are not inherently flawed as some suggest. Further, with proper management and a coherent global strategy, there is great potential for IndyCar overseas. Enjoy.
08/22/13 Bravo. It is about time IndyCar be considered an international sports property. However, the winter series idea won't fly. If they find promoters who want to pay enough money for a flyaway race then those races should just be added to the calendar and the season can start in January instead of March. Those races should pay points as any other race would. AR1.com has stated on numerous occasions that the IndyCar season should start the week before the super bowl and beat NASCAR and F1 out of the gate. The flyaway races should be night races so they can air during the daytime in the USA - live on ABC. And to placate teams who might feel the season would be too long and costly for them, the champion can be determined by the average number of points earned per race, instead of total points, with an allowance to miss up to three races per year. Doubleheaders can also be kept to a minimum.
08/22/13 Autosport.com reports that IndyCar has targeted an expansion outside of North America in 2015 with a series of off-season races around the world that could be in the form of a winter championship.
The aim of the races would be to give IndyCar teams a new revenue stream over an off-season that looks likely to grow from next year. It is understood that the next year's calendar, which is due to be announced at this weekend's Sonoma Raceway event, will climax before the end of August.
Plans for the internationalization of IndyCar have been laid out by new president of operations and competition Derrick Walker. He outlined a number of different scenarios, including non-points races, a winter or regional championship, and even the possibility of the IndyCar Series starting overseas in January or February.
“We have teams that from the end of September or October through to the start of the season in March don't have an awful lot to do; there is only so much testing you can do,” said the former the former CART and IndyCar team owner, who took up his position in May.
“Our teams need income, and an international component to their season would help strengthen their financial position."
Walker stressed that there were no plans to add any flyaway events to the Sao Paulo street circuit in Brazil, which has had a place on the IndyCar schedule since 2010, to the middle or end of the season.
“We are not going to tear up our existing calendar and we don't want our champion crowned at 1 a.m. in some faraway place,” he explained. “But if there are races in January or February leading into the domestic series, then it might make sense to include them in our championship.”
A European group called World Series Operations with links to the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in 2005-09 and subsequent attempts to relaunch the championship is known to have put forward plans for a winter series under the IndyCar Global Challenge banner.
It already has draft agreements in place with a number of promoters and has proposed a five-event schedule starting at the end of 2014.
The idea for winter races appears to have the backing of the teams.
Andretti Autosport vice-president J-F Thormann seems excited about the idea. “We are very much in favor of it. The domestic schedule ends so early, but we employ our personnel all year round, so it would be a good utilization of human resources and assets."