IndyCar Series organisers are promising that next year’s championship calendar will be longer – both in date span and the number of races – and feature the return of a few old-school favourite circuits that the fans are sure to love.
This year’s ultra-compact calendar (which spans just over five months’ length) has attracted criticism for its closely-packed schedule that sees drivers and teams crisscrossing the continent over a number of successive weekends.
“I have three different versions of next year’s calendar and all I can say right now is that we’re going to have more races than we did this year and the spacing will be better,” said Mark Miles, the president and CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent owner of the IndyCar Series.
“And it looks like to could have anywhere from two to four new races and that will be exciting.”
Already confirmed in late May was the Grand Prix of Boston on the streets of the city’s Seaport District, which is scheduled to be run on the Labor Day Weekend on September 4, 2016.
Added to that is the widely-lauded return of the Wisconsin-based Road America circuit – one of the final deals made by outgoing Competition and Events director Derek Walker – which was announced over the weekend. It is set to take place in late June.
The season opener’s surprise is rumoured to be a return to Mexico City in February. Featuring a redesigned final sector by Hermann Tilke, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, the Formula 1 championship will return to the venue later this year after a two-decade hiatus, and it looks as though the IndyCars will follow suit – the last event held there was when the Champ Car World Series visited the circuit in 2006.
Also pencilled in for returns to the calendar are up to three high-speed ovals. The International Speedway Corporation-owned venues of Arizona-based Phoenix International Raceway, Richmond International Raceway in Virginia and Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida are all candidates, with a return to Phoenix considered the most likely so far.
Miles confirmed that he’s still looking at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana or possibly Sonoma Raceway as the season finale in September, while a possible return to Laguna Seca is not out of the question either.
Andretti Sports Marketing promoted this year’s inaugural Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park (which will not be returning due to organisers failing to pay their bills) and the ABC Supply Wiscon 250 at the Milwaukee Mile, but rumours that ASM is due to cease operating will mean the race at ‘The Mile’ will need a new promoter.
|2016 IndyCar Series Season Calendar (confirmed events)|
|13 Mar 2016||Grand Prix of St Petersburg||St Petersburg street circuit|
|17 Apr 2016||Grand Prix of Long Beach||Long Beach street circuit|
|14 May 2016||Grand Prix of Indianapolis||Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course|
|29 May 2016||100th Indianapolis 500||Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval|
|04-05 Jun 2016||Indy Dual in Detroit||The Raceway at Belle Isle Park|
|26 Jun 2016||Grand Prix of Wisconsin||Road America|
|16-17 Jul 2016||Indy Toronto||Exhibition Place street circuit|
|04 Sep 2016||Grand Prix of Boston||Boston Seaport District street circuit|
|2016 IndyCar Series Season Calendar (likely additions)|
|TBA||Grand Prix of Mexico||Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez|
|TBA||Wisconsin 225||The Milwaukee Mile|
|TBA||MAVTV 500||Auto Club Speedway, Fontana|
|TBA||Grand Prix of Sonoma||Sonoma Raceway|
Personally, due to the streets of Surfers Paradise having its light rail built over a section and shortening it circuit puts a return of the Australian Indy Grand Prix in doubt over the popular street circuit which has hosted CART/IndyCar/Champ Car from 1991-2008.
A race however, on the former Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix street circuit of Adelaide would be a perfect fit for the series and could be run on, before or after the weekend of the Clipsal 500 as the Verizon IndyCar Series officials are looking at international races at the start of the season and the South Australian Motorsport Board officials are currently looking at other major international motor sporting events to bring to Adelaide.
The once popular and classic Adelaide street circuit hosted the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix from 1985-1995. The circuit was also rated by the late great, multiple-time World Champion Ayrton Senna as the best street circuit in the world and was a favourite among many other drivers, the teams and the fans due to its physically demanding characteristics and of course the city’s party-like and carnival atmosphere.
The shorter 3.2km Adelaide street circuit could be extended to its legendary 3.780km layout including the Banana Bend, famous Stag Turn, Jones Straight, Brewery Bend and the longer Sir Jack Brabham Straight if IndyCar were to race in Adelaide. The V8 Supercar drivers have always called for a return of the former Grand Prix layout and if the South Australian Government and South Australian Motorsport Board officials were to secure a round of the Verizon IndyCar Series this would be a great reason for a return to its legendary former configuration.
With the way South Australians get behind their events like they always do, there is no doubt this could be a popular event on the IndyCar Series calendar and the circuit become instantly popular among the IndyCar drivers, teams, fans and paddock. With two Australians on the grid in current series Champion Will Power and Ryan Briscoe, this will be the sweetener for Australia to get behind and promote its drivers and the series.
There has been no word whether or not a return to a venue in Australia and Brazil – which had this year’s season-opener at the Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet in Brasília cancelled at the eleventh hour – will happen in the future.
Image via Motorsport.com
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