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Racer Magazine Article on the Balance Between Road Courses and Ovals in IndyCar

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There is a good article on the Racer Magazine website todayby David Malsher entitled RACER SPECIAL: Balancing the IndyCar schedule. The article takes a look at the series’ schedule balance from the perspective of drivers and owners.

I particularly enjoyed the contrast between the views of Danica Patrick and Oriol Servia.  Patrick would prefer a schedule that features more ovals, reasoning that “The mile-and-a-half ovals are where we came from.”  Servia, on the other hand prefers the current, more diverse schedule.  In my opinion, Danica Patrick has it wrong; perhaps the 1.5 mile ovals are where the IRL came from, but not American Open Wheel Racing.  While there is certainly more oval history than road course history in American Open Wheel Racing, there has always been a road racing aspect to the sport.  I would rather see an IndyCar that represents that history of diversity, not the oval only influence of the IRL.

I strongly suggest IndyCar fans give the entire article a read, but here are some of the more interesting quotes from the article:

“We can’t just pick nine ovals and nine road courses and ignore other considerations. For IndyCar to continue to build, we need to target the right places in the right way. We evaluate how many promoters want IndyCar races, which of those will aggressively promote the events and then we decide which of those are in major markets where strong event sponsors can be found and where our series sponsors can promote themselves.”

-Randy Bernard, IndyCar CEO

I want the best tracks in the best markets to draw the best crowd. That attracts sponsorship and, historically, our sponsors do their big corporate outings at places like Long Beach and Toronto, where the infrastructure is there to entertain customers. The purists may not want to hear that, but that’s the reality. Circuit choice should be market-driven, and we want to be in the best markets. If that means more street courses, I’m fine with that; if it means more ovals then I’m fine with that, too.

-Bobby Rahal, 3 time Champion and current team owner

I think IndyCar’s got the perfect balance right now. The diversity is what I always loved about American open-wheel racing. However, we need one-mile ovals, not 1.5-milers

-Oriol Servia, driver Newman Haas Racing

On ovals, the current cars have too much downforce and no horsepower – the ratio’s the wrong way ’round.”  “We’ve got to get back to having drivers backing off the throttle for corners. At the moment, in qualifying, they’re so smothered in downforce and grip that the only quick line around the circuit is the shortest one, down by the white line; they look like they’re warming up. On high-banked ovals, you could have your chief mechanic qualify for you! Give the driver more power and you put more emphasis on his or her skill.

-Mario Andretti, legend

The full version of the article will be in the September 2011 of Racer magazine.  I can’t wait to get my copy and read it.  Bernard  and Rahal make great points, motor sport is also a business and you have to find the proper balance between sport and business to keep the series alive.  In regards to the tracks and the cars, Servia, and Andretti have hit the nail on the head.


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