Since then, a road course was built through the speedway’s infield and Formula One, sports cars and motorcycles have raced there. And it only made sense: the Indianapolis Speedway is the finest, all-purpose, motorsport facility in the world and should be used for a variety of races.
The announcement this week that the Speedway would now promote a road-race round of the IndyCar series is good news. The timing of the race — on a Saturday, in May, two weeks before the most famous race in the world, the Indianapolis 500 — is not.
This seems to be, yet again, another mistake made at the corporate level by this series. And it’s such a shame. The racing product is fantastic. The drivers are highly talented and the cut-and-thrust of competition is second-to-none and that includes F1. But the administration and marketing leave so, so much to be desired.
By all means, have a second IndyCar race at the Speedway. And if — as has been hinted, suggested, leaked, whatever — IndyCar is planning to end its 2014 season on Labour Day Weekend, then Indianapolis would be the perfect place for the final race.
But a road race in May featuring the Indy cars, when the focus should be on one thing and one thing only, the Indy 500, is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Everybody (I assume everybody; I don’t have a spy inside the Hulman-George family compact at the moment) points to NASCAR and the Daytona Speedweeks as inspiration for this idea. But they’re forgetting something: at no time in February prior to the running of the Daytona 500 are the cars and stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series all on the track at the same time.
Sure, there is the shootout (I still think of it as the Busch Clash) in which pole winners and others get to race each other. And there are single-car qualification runs and two qualifying races and truck and Nationwide Series races in which some of the Sprint Cup drivers compete.
But, in the end, when they line up the cars for the Daytona 500, it is one-time, unique and a true headline event.
Do you think for a moment that NASCAR would say: “Hey, here’s a good idea. Two weeks before the Daytona 500, let’s schedule a Sprint Cup race on the road course at Daytona.”
Of course not, and that’s why IndyCar’s plan to run that road race in May is nuts.
Is there time for a re-think? Probably not. But after it turns out to be a clunker, don’t anybody ever say they weren’t warned.
Weekend racing: No F1 or IndyCar this weekend, leaving NASCAR and local racing to keep us occupied.
The Sprint Cup Chase moves on to Dover this weekend for the AAA 400. Brad Keselowski won this race a year ago but I wouldn’t bet against Matt Kenseth scoring a hat trick. Kenseth has won the first two Chase races and appears to be on a roll.
Good news for Michael Waltrip Racing. 5-Hour Energy announced Friday that it would continue sponsorship of Waltrip’s team and driver Clint Bowyer through the 2014 season. NAPA Auto Parts, of course, announced it would pull its sponsorship of Martin Truex Jr. and MWR as a result of the face-fixing “scandal.”
Said Melissa Skabich, communications director for 5-hour Energy, in a media release: “This week, the 5-hour ENERGY® team met after the New Hampshire race to discuss our future with Michael Waltrip Racing. While our original plan was to announce the status of our sponsorship at the end of the year, this timeframe left many concerned about their future.
“There are scores of passionate fans, numerous charitable organizations and hundreds of hard-working MWR employees and their families who are directly impacted by 5-hour ENERGY’s NASCAR sponsorship. After several internal discussions and meetings with MWR, we are prepared to announce our decision ahead of schedule. 5-hour ENERGY® will be back as a sponsor of MWR and Clint Bowyer for 2014. We look forward to another great year of competitive racing. Go 15!”
And I say great news and a great decision. This is the first good, logical, decision announced since this whole sorry mess started.
Meantime, at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the final racing weekend, known as the Celebration of Motorsport, will feature CASC-Ontario Region competition. And there’s some good stuff going on out there.
Jason Sharpe reports that the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship Series is going down to the wire and the “A” Class champion will be crowned this weekend when the final two rounds are held.
2013 “B” Class honours have already been awarded to Craig Willis, who’s scored seven class victories so far and set new qualifying and race lap records at every track the series raced at this season.
The fight for the “A” championship will be between Jack Mitchell, Jr.,and Zacharie Robichon. Mitchell, Jr., holds a bit of a lead but the races this weekend — one Saturday, one Sunday — will determine the winner.
The Formula 1600 series, although only one of a number of classes in competition this weekend, is always interesting. Last year’s championship went down to the last corner of the last lap and even then the title wasn’t decided for a few weeks because of a protest over a collision that was ultimately ruled to be a racing accident.
Michael Adams, who won the championship in the end over Caitlin Johnston, will return to the series for the first time this season to run in the “B” class and seasoned observers are suggesting that he will give Willis a good test.
Meantime, the VARAC Vintage/Historic and Group 70+ race cars will also compete in their final races this weekend, as will the CASC-OR GT Challenge, GT Sprints, Formula 1200 and Formula Libre/F4.
On-track action gets going both Saturday and Sunday at 8:30 a.m.
For the weekend’s schedule, please click here:
To print out free tickets, please click here:
My thanks to Diane Dale for those links and to Michael Haley for the photo.