Friday, November 1, 2013

A Peon's Thought on Scheduling

I had a thought last night relating to scheduling that I tweeted out to Kevin Lee for trackside.  It has several moving parts and I doubt twitter really did it justice.  So since I never took this site down and I am sure Pippa was getting tired of my last post being front page anyway…

It would be nice to imagine a world where nascar and IndyCar worked together on things like scheduling and cross promotion, but reality nascar does what it wants and IndyCar tries to react. 

A concern most have heading into next season is the race at Fontana.  Racing in the Mojave desert on Labor Day weekend sounds like a formula for Heatstroke.  Will any fans bother to show up?  Same question I am sure Gillian Anderson of Auto Club Speedway is also thinking.  But unlike IndyCar or its fans she may be in a position to do a little more about this. 

It generally seems that nascar, drivers and fans haven’t been all that enthused about the season ender at Homestead Miami.  The gruff, lovable, borderline…well…however you might describe him, Bruton Smith once questioned why nascar would ever end its season down in “Little Havana”.  Not the biggest market out there nor is it one that has truly embraced nascar as much as having the privilege of hosting the season finale should carry.

But the 10 year contract for that arrangement is about up - 2015 (I think).  Which also happens to be the year that both IndyCar and nascar execs have implicitly pointed to as destination years for schedule movement, if the tagging of 2014 as a “Transition” year means what it suggests.

So here’s the thought and the downstream implications.  What if Fontana lobbied to be the new home for the nascar final race, ending the season in MMM#2?  Homestead takes Fontana’s former spring slot in the cup schedule.  IndyCar now has the chance to not impact the success of their Fontana event by a Labor ending of the season and can START their season in MMM#2.

The nascar season is minimally impacted otherwise so we can leave that be and talk about what else might be in store for IndyCar from the change.

First question – what would Long Beach think of this?  Not sure it is an issue.  After all how do NFL teams fill 70,000 seat stadiums with back to back home games at ticket prices much higher than IndyCar?  MMM#2 is big place.  If Indy can support two races two weeks apart, you would have to assume the same is possible for MMM#2.  The Media attention in MMM#2 from hosting the season opener may translate as well into more tickets sold for Long Beach, and to build on an idea I have long championed, GPLBA and AutoClub speedway really ought to get together and offer a combo ticket for the two.

Second Question – where does IndyCar go for its finale? 

I thought perhaps MKE or Iowa as both have been moved on the schedule and have pretty good crowds and growing or established traditions.  But I would be surprised if IndyCar really wants to end their season in media markets that small. 

What about either Road America or COTA?  Awesome tracks that need to be on the circuit but I think a lot of fans like ending the season on an oval and I think current management is attuned with the fan base enough to get that clue.

Another oval…How about Ind…….ummm scratch that one.  DON’T POKE THE ANGRY BEAR WHEN HE’S SLEEPING.

Moving Pocono or adding Michigan or Chicagoland back to schedule would be enthusiastically received by many and ending the season in MMM#3 would make sponsors happy but unless there is more drastic surgery done to the cup schedule, labor day is too close to nascar dates at those locations.

So here’s a thought.  TEXAS.  Yep – the relationship has been strained as of late, but that would be an oval that most current fans love.   It scratches Eddie behind the ear and gives him a big event to promote which happens nearly two months before his final cup date.  Yes, Dallas it hot that time of year, but if you keep it a night race, the darkness comes sooner in September than it does in mid June. 

Just please fix the aero package.



*MMM#2 denotes Major Media Market #2 – otherwise known as Los Angeles.

**MMM#3 – do the math – I have faith in you.

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