Things come out of the blue and make you wonder, what’s up?
As in, what’s really going on? What is this about?
At 7:04 a.m. today, the IZOD IndyCar Series saw fit to send out this announcement:
“The IZOD IndyCar Series announced today that it will not return to Twin Ring Motegi in 2012.
“The series will hold its final event at the 1.5-mile egg-shaped oval located north of Tokyo on Sept. 18, 2011.
“ ‘We've enjoyed a great run at Twin Ring Motegi and thank our friends at Mobilityland and Honda Japan for hosting a great event over the past eight years," said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division for INDYCAR, the sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series.
“ ‘While our businesses move in different directions, we will keep the door open for future events at the track.
“ ‘As INDYCAR and the IZOD IndyCar Series continue to evaluate their long term plans, we must look to build the sport and its viewership. We believe it is important that the final few events on our schedule give us the opportunity to be broadcast live during times that maximize our viewing audience as we build up to the championship. We will continue to meet with promoters domestically and internationally that want to pursue an IZOD IndyCar Series event.’ ”
Okay, so it and of itself, that statement seems to be that IndyCar won’t be going back to Japan simply because it doesn’t want to have a race televised live in North America at midnight.
But is that worth a one-item press release at 7 a.m. in the morning? Isn’t that a second or third item in the IndyCar news roundup that’s routinely sent out to media most days in the mid-to-late afternoon?
Or is this symbolic of something else happening?
In 2012, the plan is to relaunch the IndyCar Series. A new car and new engines are in the works. Honda, which has been the only supplier of power plants to the IndyCar Series for years, as well as sponsor of many of the races (see the Honda Indys Toronto and Edmonton) plus supplier of other economic benefits, such as advertising, is going to have competition.
Engine builders Chevrolet and Lotus and — who knows? — maybe others will be racing against Honda on the track and jockeying for business off.
We have been led to believe over the years that Honda welcomed competition and looked forward to it.