A Better Schedule for Indy
The Area, Not the IMS Race Track
To me, the glory days of NASCAR racing in Indianapolis were when the Cup Series raced at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon, with preliminary races Thursday and Friday at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Seeing the second- and third-tier traveling divisions on the large-but-not-highly-banked IRP just added something to the weekend that the mostly boring Xfinity races can’t do today.
Trucks at IRP/Lucas Oil Raceway.
Of course, money buys everything in NASCAR, so when IMS wanted the preliminary races, IRP was SOL . . . but not quite. This year there will be an ARCA race on Friday night (September 7) and a USAC Silver Crown race (plus a support event) Saturday night. I wish I could tell you more about these, but the information available online is so screwed up and lacking in both detail and accuracy that I can’t. Sometimes we forget how good we have it with NASCAR’s PR/Marketing machine. Anyway, the point is that there will be races at IRP (now Lucas Oil Raceway, but so dominated by the drag strip that it’s hard to find anything about the existence of the venerable oval, much less details about its events), but their status will be nothing like it was when the two NASCAR classes were running.*
Where was I before that rant? Oh, yeah, things were much better when the Cup crowd ran at the big track and everybody else ran at the small track. So why can’t we do that again? Well, if WE ruled the racing world, we could, but nobody running it now will likely think this a great idea, and since they’re responsible for the incredible success level in NASCAR today… oh, never mind.
If we did in fact rule the racing world, here’s what I’d suggest:
Wednesday, Sept. 5 - Something at Eldora. OK, it’s over two hours away, but it’s still Eldora, and if you run something of significance the week before Indy’s NASCAR race, it’ll draw fans. I’d go for a doubleheader of ARCA stocks and Tony Stewart’s Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions sprints.
(Editor’s note: for many years running, there WAS something at Eldora leading into the Indy races, both Xfinity and Cup...The Truck Race! It became a standard to do a column on that trip from penthouse to outhouse in only three days’ time… from a standing room only crowd to an empty stadium… and due to its massive size, there is nothing emptier than Indy when it is.)
Open wheel cars or stocks are worth watching at Eldora.
Thursday, September 6 - USAC Silver Crown plus a support division (I’d go with modifieds, but late models would be cool, too) at IRP/Lucas Oil.
Friday, September 7 - Indy Cup qualifying at IMS during the day, then Camping/Gander Trucks at IRP/Lucas Oil in the evening.
Saturday, September 8 - Cup practice, then USAC Midgets plus dirt late models in the new quarter-mile dirt track in the infield at IMS during the day, then Xfinity Series stocks at IRP/Lucas Oil in the evening. (NOTE: I would LOVE to see the race on the IMS dirt track feature the Tony Stewart All Stars and the USAC Midgets, but I’m not sure the track will be suitable for full-sized sprints, and I have no idea about seating capacity.)
Couldn’t find a shot of the new Dirt Track at Indy in its completed state (maybe construction is going down to the wire), but here’s an “under construction” view.
Sunday, September 9 - Monster/NASCAR/Cup Series race at IMS.
Now I’m going to really dream and say all the participating speedways get together and offer various discount programs for tickets if fans attend three or more events.
Finally, a very important admission on my part. As I have said many times before, it’s awfully easy to suggest wonderful solutions to the world’s (or NASCAR’s) problems if you have no skin in the game yourself. Obviously, it my grand idea were to be implemented, and the total attendance for all five days of motorsports was 27, those who have put up the money to make this happen won’t be happy, but I’ll have the same bills in my pocket that I did the Tuesday before. I just think one has to be fair and admit that. I do, however, think it’s a great idea.
* Let me make it clear that my rant has nothing to do with the racers involved this year; in fact, the USAC Silver Crown cars are among my favorite racing divisions anywhere, and I’d love to see ARCA on dirt. I just got really frustrated at how poor the promotional information was online about these races.
USAC Silver Crown cars in action.
Frank’s Loose Lug Nuts
The new Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an interesting effort to capture the success that Charlotte and Las Vegas have had, but there are significant differences that may limit the track’s success.
The most obvious is that the track doesn’t have its own seating. It’s located just inside Turn Three of the big track, and fans sit in the regular stands outside turn three, which puts them a bit removed from the action. This year’s schedule has USAC Midgets running Wednesday and Thursday prior to the NASCAR weekend, with tickets for Wednesday going for $35 and Thursday for $30-$60. The late model weekend at Richmond in October has $40 tickets for five divisions of racers, with super late models and modifieds topping the bill. At New Hampshire in September, you can see a $25,000-to-win Whelan Modified Series race, a K&N East Series feature, and the Canadian NASCAR Pinty’s Series’ first U.S. appearance, all for $35. Charging what Indy is charging for the midgets on the new dirt track is clearly out of line.
Also, while I love quarter-mile tracks, I wonder if this will limit what kinds of show Indy can present. Wish ‘em luck, though.
When I was at the recent Eastern Museum of Motor Racing/Williams Grove Old Timers Convention at the Latimore Valley Fairgrounds, just south of Harrisburg, Pa., I fell in love with a good number of the old race cars on hand. They wouldn’t look that good without hundreds or even thousands of hours of work and care from their owners, but what really drew me in was the beauty of these cars compared to what we see today. Check out these then-and-now comparisons:
Maybe it’s just me, but the ideal of “man and machine” (which should be “person and machine” today) seems to be captured much better with the older cars. Call me a dinosaur (I have no real defense), but I’d go back to cars like this in a heartbeat and enjoy racing a lot more than I do now. As they say in all those Facebook memes, can I get an “Amen?”