Thursday, September 3, 2009

Early to Rise and Early to Bed, Scheduling the IndyCar Series to Avoid America’s Real National Pastime

Racing is racing and as much as we enjoy it, that is all it will ever be. Football is football and in America football is king. In this day and age, it is America’s true national pastime. One of the perils or running a racing series into the fall are the unavoidable conflicts between a race broadcast and any number of televised football games on a given weekend. nascar’s answer to this a few years ago, while ratings were still in the ascent, was to throw a competition yellow and bunch the championship race back up with “The Chase for the cup”. The thought was that the extra drama from a tightened points race would finally give nascar the final umph to go after the king of all sports media properties the NFL. For what it was originally was intended to do, it failed. Now other secondary “successes” such as attention for sponsors whose drivers are on the chase bubble are now widely reported to justify it’s initial creation.

IndyCar realistically has no such grand plans to take on football, nor should it. But here we are with a meaningful points race for the championship heading into a disjointed close to the season that may confuse and lose the casual fan. George at Oilpressure has commented on the
current season ending with a wimper so I won’t spend too much time hashing over what might be wrong with the current system. George suggests the season should end on Labor day to avoid the football season.

Building on this, I had a thought, not an original one, and not one that I am completely sold on, but an Idea I certainly would welcome your opinions on (sorry about that run-on sentence Mrs Choate, I tried to use some big words to make up for it...). What if IndyCar began its season on the weekend between the conference championship games and the super bowl, a week before the festivities at Daytona. Then wrapped the whole deal up at a big labor day party? It would, by design, miss the entire football season. Yet it would still allow for a racing schedule to potentially expand from its current 17 race format to a 24 race format once adequate funding was infused into the series.

Scheduling might be a bit of an adventure – getting enough warm weather venues early in the season. It would undoubtedly require a couple events recently shifted to the end of the season to be switched back earlier. The season could conceivably revive a season opening race at the Disney Mickyard , then avoiding the superbowl and Daytona festivities head a couple weeks later to Homestead. A swing south of the equator to Brazil then Mexico City would flesh out the beginning of March which could be finished up with a trip to Charlotte. The schedule would then carry on as it currently does with the need to find a spot for Motegi back in late April which probably could be paired with the rumored and postulated event in China. The 500 would move to nearly the middle of the season which would progress through the meat of the schedule as is then end with back to back action filled D shaped mile and a half events at Chicago and Kentucky.

If the league was concerned about going completely dark during the end of sponsorship silly season, it might think about holding a non points paying “all star” weekend sometime in September at Las Vegas. This weekend could feature the season ending awards banquet, and a race where say the top 15 finishers in the IRL raced side by side with the top 5 finishers from the lights series. The twist? Two races – the first in Lights Cars and the second in the ICS cars where drivers and teams would be matched via random draw. Prospective sponsors could be brought in for the festivities and introduced to drivers (at both levels) and teams making a final pitch for sponsorship in the coming year.

Anyway, Just an unfiltered random thought. We have plenty of time on our hands as we wait for Motegi. This post is meant to initiate an open discussion so feel free to comment.

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