Bigger (And Later) In Texas

Posted by Iannucci | 12/08/2006 | 4 comments »
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One of the best things about the 2007 season is the conversion of several events to night time features. Racing under the lights makes a lot more sense at most venues because it provides more palatable temperatures for fans in attendance during summer races, it puts the race on during prime-time viewing, and darned if it doesn’t make the cars look faster.

And one of the best tracks in the entire IRL schedule is Texas Motor Speedway, which has always been one of those places where cars can go three-wide around the entire course. Texas has been home to some of the most exciting races in the 10-year history of the league and is probably my favorite track for televised IndyCar races not named Indianapolis.

So why am I down about the recent announcement expanding the Texas race in June by 28 laps? Because you can get too much of a good thing. As much as I would love to see more racing at Texas or a night race, I am not thrilled at all about getting both. I don’t know who came up with this idea, but to me this seems horribly wrong-headed.

Here are the facts: the race is already 200 laps, which means at least a couple of hours of racing. Throw another 28 laps in and you’ve got another 15 minutes. By moving the race to night time in Texas the race will start at 8pm – which is 10pm on the East Coast where most people on the continent live (present company excluded). That means for many fans the race will most likely be finishing on Sunday.

Am I missing something or is there a Great American Slumber Party going on in the second week of June?

Look, for years professional sports like Major League Baseball and the NFL have been chided for starting games so late that no one sees the conclusion. This is especially troublesome to parents (present company included) who share the races with their kids. With viewership nowhere near those two sports the IRL needs to be a little more accommodating when it comes to race times. It makes NO SENSE to have one of the best events of the season at a time when much of the potential viewing audience will soon be heading to bed well before the conclusion of the race.

Maybe the advent of DVRs like TiVo have made this a non-issue. Maybe they can’t start any earlier because the sunset in Texas would be a substantial racing hazard. Maybe most folks really would rather stay up late on a Saturday watching an IndyCar race.

Or maybe this is indeed a mistake that will be corrected after 2007.

4 comments

  1. Joe // December 08, 2006 7:07 PM  

    The folks at Texas wanted a longer race after last year's finished in under 95 minutes. That's just flat too short. How they came up with 228 laps... no idea.

    Hate to say it, but the thing's being buried on ESPN2; no one will see it anyway.

  2. pressdog // December 09, 2006 1:43 PM  

    Last year's Texas race was 1 1/2 hours with maybe one yellow (IIRC). IRL drivers seem to have clues on how to race without mashing into each other, so you'll get yellow-free races. Like Chicagoland last year. Couple phantom debris yellows thrown in there just to keep the Big Three from lapping the field.

    I'm with Joe about adding 28 laps? Is 28 someone's lucky number?

  3. Jeff Iannucci // December 11, 2006 1:35 PM  

    The 28 lap addition is a byproduct of metric conversion. The Bombardier 500 is now 550 - kilometers.

    Oh, those tricky Texans.

  4. don // December 12, 2006 3:10 PM  

    if it starts at 8, thats only 9 in EDT. Texas is in CDT, not Mountain. So, gain an hour.