IndyCar musings

Just some random thoughts from the IndyCar paddock:

1. “Mike Conway may be good enough to make A. J. Foyt Racing relevant again." The real improvement is that Larry Foyt took over the team’s day to day operations. It’s like when Jim Irsay took over the Colts from his old man (Bob), and the team went from laughingstock circa 1988 (no wins) to uber-champions. Or for that matter, the Lions as William Clay Ford hands over the reigns to his heirs, taking the no-win Lions to respectability and the playoffs.

Conway is a great driver on the street/road courses. If he could avoid being a crash dummy at Indy, he’s all set. That’s a big “if". I hear that Mike even talks, but I’ve never heard him talk.

2. Ask any long-time Indy fan where they’d want to go next (that isn’t on the schedule) and they’ll say “Road America."

3. Sorry Robin, but Michigan won’t be on the Indy schedule anytime soon. Okay, strange things happen in motor sports, but I’ll bet that MIS won’t be on the 2013 or 2014 schedule, at least. Consider:

a. It’s an ISC track. MIS has about 200,000 tickets to sell for NASCAR races, plus finding sponsorship for those events. What do you think they’re evaluated on at the end of the year?

b. Same problems as Vegas – a high-banked oval where everyone can run everywhere flat-out. Last time the IndyCars ran at MIS, we had the best NASCAR restrictor plate race ever, complete with “the big one" that made the Dallara people the winners of that race. If IndyCar finds the “formula" then yeah, it’s a great idea, but we’re doing the new aero in 2013, right? The early IRL cars seemed to have the formula figured out, but the Indy Lights people did a crash fest those years. And we all recall years when CART didn’t have the formula right either. Indy would have to work with the new aero packages to get something that is entertaining and safe.

c. It’s near Detroit, which is Penske’s baby. It’s one thing if Roger owns both events, quite another if he doesn’t. Unless Ford comes into IndyCar, the “Detroit" people go with Chevy, which go with Roger, when it comes to corporate support.

d. The State of Michigan has yet to come out of their depression, which started in late 2001. MIS sold out 34 straight NASCAR races, topping out at 153,000 fans, before the bottom dropped out. Now MIS can’t sell out 90,000 seats (about 110,000 fans) for each of their 2 races, and their sponsorship is much weaker.

e. It’s one more track within a day’s drive of Indy, that must hold its event in the months of June-July-August. That makes for tight scheduling, especially if you need a 2-week window to go to places like China. This is a major problem for Cleveland, Road America, Chicagoland, etc etc as well. Add in the saturation of the market for major motor sports events too (NASCAR, IndyCar, NHRA, etc). MIS would want the July 15 date, which would be in the middle of the current Canadian swing tour. Tim Wohlford

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