Q: I got an idea for the IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader – Fontana! Some of the best racing ever has gone on at that track, and they have lights. What do you think?
CAM in LA
RM: I think Fontana’s Dave Allen would be all for it if the IndyCar race was on a Saturday night in October when it was cool enough, but I don’t see it happening.
Q: You’re making an IndyCar fan out of me. Did Indy this year in my FF with SVRA. Got a third on Saturday and was really thrilled. SVRA put on a great show. Free entry and cheap garages. Quite the treat for us amateurs. Probably no surprise that I love Virginia International Raceway. It shares characteristics with Road America and holds IMSA races as well (combined event?). Have you ever heard of interest in holding an IndyCar race at VIR? Thanks for all the great answers.
John Gaither, Brevard, N.C.
RM: My colleague at NBC, Kevin Lee, was racing with his son recently at VIR and the owner mentioned his interest in IndyCar but the concerns likely would be getting it FIA-ready and where people would stay.
Q: Since the NASCAR purchase of International Speedway Corp seems imminent – Oct 16 deal, final Oct 18 – does this possibly mean that IndyCar race scheduled for Richmond may now become one and done because of NASCAR’s well-known desire to put IndyCar racing out of business? Also, this probably means there’s never going to be a chance (not that there ever was) for IndyCar to go back to Chicagoland or Michigan or Watkins Glen, right? Thoughts?
Jake, Pasadena, CA
RM: Not at all. Between NBC asking NASCAR and IndyCar to work together and Jay Frye’s connections in NASCAR, it’s a much better relationship than it’s ever been. Hopefully Richmond will be around for the duration of its contract and beyond if it can sustain a crowd, and those other tracks might be possible if they have any interest. But ISC needs its tracks to make money, so it’s in their best interest to help the IndyCar shows at Richmond or Iowa.
Q: Is there any chance of IndyCar pairing up with SRO America (formerly Pirelli World Challenge) for more events? They are a fantastic show at St. Pete every year. You are always mentioning pairing with IMSA, which would be great too, but would this not be an option?
Mark Suska, Lexington, OH
RM: It appears that COTA will host the only IndyCar/SRO weekend in 2020 but there is an eight-hour race scheduled for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Oct. 3-4. And you are correct – they are entertaining .
Q: Reading your article about the TV ratings for 2019 and it got me thinking about an issue I’ve wondered since the Boston Consulting fiasco. I understand not wanting to compete directly against the NFL, meaning Sunday afternoons. But how does a Saturday night race compete against the NFL? This seems like an illogical reason to not end the season at Fontana (or something similar) like they used to, on a Saturday night in late September or early October. What am I missing?
Kyle Jenkins, Edwardsville, IL
RM: It doesn’t. Gateway runs before college football starts, but as we’ve said many times, Fontana is only interested in a night race in October and IndyCar doesn’t want to run that late. Plus, NBC isn’t going to televise a Saturday night race on prime time unless it would be the Indy 500. And IndyCar wants the season finale on network.
Q: Robin, it was mentioned by an earlier Mailbag reader that there is an effort underway here on Oahu to build a racetrack. I doubt if it will be built to suit IndyCar but if it was, an early season race here would serve several needs. It would be a great early warm weather destination in January/February/March. It would serve as an exotic vacation destination as well. It lies 11 hours from Sydney, nine hours from Tokyo, both with rabid race fans, and just six hours from L.A. City leaders are also concerned about falling Asian visitor counts. A big-time auto race might help. And it would help fill the IndyCar calendar. I wonder if a word could be passed to the proper authorities?
RM: I sent your letter to Stephen Starks but it’s the same old question: would that track be interested in hosting an IndyCar race, and who would pay for it? But it would be a nice way to kick off the season.
Q: Looking at reconfigurable layouts got me pondering…. I know IndyCar would like to put more product out there within a season circumscribed by TV and availability, but could they not add two or three like this with minimal cost, because the weekend was already blocked out? You’d essentially see two different races at the same location. And the crews, both racing, and broadcast, would already be on the scene.
RM: The idea was pitched to run Cleveland in two configurations – an oval on Friday or Friday night, then the traditional airport road course at Burke Lakefront on Sunday, with Saturday a day to get the track ready and maybe practice. That seemed to be the only economical way to do what you’re suggesting, but as tough as it to make it as a promoter these days I can’t see much interest.