Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wish for Additional Schedule Diversity

Since we are in the lull part of the news cycle for racing I figured we could propose some realistic thoughts on small further improvement to the Indy Car Series on the chance Brian Barnhart of Tony George happen to randomly cross the blog while searching for neat ideas they can use.

For me, the IRL promotes itself, and rightly so, for having the most diverse schedule in motorsports. The ICS gives you natural terrain, street, airport, rectangle, D-shaped, egg shaped; some banked and some not. Honestly this is my favorite thing about the ICS as a series as Formula One is all road, while NASCAR is all oval.

Formula One (and A1GP, GP2 etc) is all about pit strategy, technology and weather conditions; while NASCAR (and all stock car etc) is about drafting, yellow flag pit stops and endurance.

ALMS & Grand-Am both share the technical aspects of the disciplines but are missing the track diversity; which is why I think the IndyCar Series is much ahead of everyone else.

With the new TV agreement with Versus seemingly opening up the TV windows to a minimum of 3 hours of coverage if not more, here is one simple thing they can do at relatively low to no immediate cost and to the large benefit of fans and track owners.

Add a few laps to three of the ovals!

Now I'm not talking about going NASCAR and making every race 500+ miles, that's boring and defeats the purpose stated above about diversity. Each road/street course is different in its own way making it distinct from the others but take a look at our ovals:

Kansas - 300 mile D-shape oval
Indy - 500 mile flat rectangle
Milwaukee - 225 mile small flat oval
Texas - 342 mile steep banked D-oval
Iowa - 218 miles steep banked D-oval, small
Richmond - 225 mile small bullring
Kentucky - 300 mile D-shape cookie cutter
Chicagoland - 300 mile D-shape cookie cutter
Motegi - 300 miles wide Egg shaped oval
Homestead - 300 mile oval containing 2 straightaways!?

Clearly we have the 225 and 300 mile distance contests covered as well as D-shaped tracks, while losing Michigan (a 400 miler) now puts Texas at 342 miles, our longest non-Indy race. Worse it is right behind Indy meaning our 'distance' races (2 out of 10 ovals) peak together in the middle. We have 3 short ovals and 2 long ovals but 5 mediums? Why not lets differentiate the mediums what we can.

Lets take say Kentucky, Texas and Homestead and make them 400 mile races (differentiating them from the other mid-size 1.5 mile tracks) Keep Motegi at 300 as we don't need to be grueling out the time and equipment overseas in the late TV viewing hours and the shape of that track is plenty unique.

Fans get more action, drivers get more diversity, and track owners get more concession sales, and assuming the Ethanol is still paid for, no additional costs to teams...

This just seems simple enough, and I know some people feel Indy should be the only 500 miler and some don't, but regardless we need some freaking 400 milers before we even talk about 500 milers.