Want the bad news first? OK, the IndyCar series decided today that they are not going to replace China with another race as they were unable to secure a deal with a track to stage a race on such short notice.
Honestly, the part I'm bummed about is that there will only be 15 races on the schedule, meaning we have just six more events left before the season ends in Fontana on Sept. 15. I wish a 16th race could have been found -- well, it could have, but it would have come with a big price tag. As in, anyplace the series would race they would have probably taken a financial bath.
Coupled with the financial hit they are going to take by losing the China sanctioning fee, believed to be $8 million, it would have more than likely been a red season for the series at a time where they could least afford it. It still might be, so a bad deal just to have a race would have made it worse.
So while I'm a little upset that we were strung along with the belief a 16th race was going to happen, it's better going without because a half-assed effort put together at the last minute that flopped would be really, really bad PR. Hopefully the interest several tracks showed in perhaps jumping in and staging a race carries on to next year and an expanded schedule. Road America, believed to be one of the front-runners for the fill-in race and a favorite among the drivers, will be in the picture if the numbers work right and there isn't a negative effect on Milwaukee. There are a lot of reasons that IndyFest should be a priority.
There is a concern that a race one short of the contractual obligation to series sponsor Izod would become an issue. But you know what I say about that? Screw Izod. They have got to be the shittiest corporate partner in professional sports. Little sponsor activation at the races, small amounts of commercial time and no love for the drivers.
Case in point: Izod ran several commercials during the Iowa Corn 250 featuring pro golfer Kevin Na and another that showed Zoolander-type male models frolicking in the water. Yet not one spot featured an IndyCar driver, not even one with Ryan Briscoe, who carries the Izod livery on his car. So if they are just going through the motions, then if I am the powers that be in IndyCar I don't go out of my way to get that 16th race.
Rant over. But one thing that got me stoked was the announcement that the season-ending race at Auto Club Speedway will be stretched to 500 miles (250 laps), 100 miles more than the original scheduled distance. For old schoolers like me, that's great news.
I can't help it, I love 500-milers! I wish we had more on the schedule but given the short attention span of our society (me included), the value of television time and the declining interest in 500 mile races, even in NASCAR, we probably won't get many more than two a season.
Still, like many, I would love to see a 500 mile race at Pocono or Michigan added to the schedule to give us a true "Triple Crown" of races, like existed back in the day when the old Ontario Speedway was part of the circuit in the 1970s. That would be way cool.
I posted on Twitter today that the only thing that concerned me was the possibility of lots of attrition. Maybe I am harkening back to the wind it up til it sounds like a fighter jet days of CART but it seemed like Fontana has always been hard on engines. With the two long straights it will be interesting to see what speeds will look like and how the engines will be taxed. Gearing will be huge.
Speaking of, check out the video I've posted below. Holy cow, if that isn't a race car completely on the edge I don't know what is! Gil de Ferran could seriously pedal a car. If you want to know what 241.428 miles an hour looks like...just watch! Make sure you check out the entire clip so you can see the grid at the end -- you'll see a few familiar names.