Word on the street

Posted by Iannucci | 3/23/2010 | , , | 12 comments »
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Based on totally unscientific feedback gleaned from such reputable samples as blog comments and message board posts, the consensus is that despite issues with the weather and the track surface (or perhaps because of them) the street race in Sao Paolo was pretty high on the entertainment charts. The biggest reason? Sao Paolo featured 95 passes, many of which were not only for the actual lead but were also visible to actual television viewers.

That's right, 95 passes in a street race. An abbreviated one, in fact. No wonder Jack Arute was talking about the possibility of swarms of locusts appearing.

Maybe it was because of the weather issues, or the track configuration which featured long straightaways leading towards abrupt turns, or even the souped-up "push to pass" button which now seems like less of a video-game inspired punchline and more like something that facilitates interesting racing. Whatever the reason it was...man, after years of despising street racing parades even I have to admit that was *gulp* exciting.

...and here come the swarms of locusts...

Now, your humble host is still a vocal supporter of oval-based preferences, and is not suggesting the IRL needs more street racing. But as the league struggles to find new venues it might be that we're going to get more street racing whether we like it or not. To think, just three seasons ago the IndyCar series featured exactly one street race on the schedule with the Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg, but bimergification has prompted the IRL to add similar events at Sao Paolo, Long Beach, Toronto, and Edmonton to the schedule, and yet another is growing closer.

Baltimore Racing Development LLC envisions sponsoring the Indy Racing League event - including a main race with cars going at speeds up to 200 mph - starting in August 2011 and continuing annually for at least five years.

"It's a world-class event that brings global media exposure to the city and has a huge economic benefit for the city and the citizens of Baltimore," (Ryan O'Doherty, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake) said. He said the city could realize $60 million in economic gains over the five years of the race, as well as hundreds of full-time jobs and millions in city and state tax revenue.

"They very much want this market," (Jay Davidson, chief executive of Baltimore Racing Development) said. "They don't have anything in the Mid-Atlantic."
Note the comment about racing in August, and couple it with this quote from an interview with Randy Bernard in the St Petersburg Times.

I'm not convinced that sanction agreements are always in the best interest of the league and I would like to see possibly co-promotions and I'd like to see possibly the bottom two events dropped every year so that we continue to make sure that we are bringing better value every single year to our fans.
If Tony George brought his hammer to work everyday, the it looks like Randy's bringing his axe. So with regards to August, a quick check of the schedule shows Edmonton (proven money loser) in late July, Mid Ohio (regionally close to perennially-discussed Cleveland) in early August, and Sonoma (chronically poor attendance) in late August as possible candidates for culling. Considering the comments the new CEO made in an extensive interview with Declan Brennan about focusing on the fact this is primarily an American series, Edmonton may be the slight favorite if there is a chopping block derby.

Meanwhile...anyone heard any good rumors about adding any ovals lately?


  1. Diecast Dude // March 23, 2010 12:49 PM  

    Speaking of Mr. Arute, even in passing, can't believe you're letting this one go by un-commented on... http://blog.jackaruteonsports.com/indycar/give-it-up-for-indy-downforce.html

  2. Racing Historian // March 23, 2010 12:50 PM  

    Let me be the first to begin an oval rumor. S P was the most entertaining street race I've ever seen, bar none. And good for Mr. Bernard - under-performing races, especially the twisties mentioned - should be candidates for non-renewal. Now, as for the rumor I'm starting: Bring back Michigan - please!!!

  3. Team Canada // March 23, 2010 12:52 PM  

    Edmonton is not a money loser for IndyCar. They get paid one of the highest sanction fees in the series. Wouldn't IndyCar think of dropping races that provide them a very small fee, has poor attendance, poor promoters, etc? If IndyCar is to turn around, they are going to have to look at the races that earn them the least.

  4. Mike // March 23, 2010 12:53 PM  

    I would think Edmonton is not going to be back, regardless of whether the league wants it to return or not. Rexall is not going to sponsor it, it has lost oodles of money, and the city is closing down the airport.

  5. Team Canada // March 23, 2010 12:53 PM  

    SP was estimated to cost the city 18 million dollars. Is that not considered a money loser????
    Edmonton cost the city 3. 4 million.

  6. Team Canada // March 23, 2010 1:01 PM  

    There is quite a bit going on here in Edmonton that will make people realize what a complete failure the current promoter for Edmonton has done, especially considering the number of attendees and revenues. It is all about poor sponsorships and activating them. We are putting a plan to turn this race around and make it not cost the city a dime. Stay tuned. You will be surprised as to who is becoming involved.

  7. Leigh O'Gorman // March 23, 2010 1:18 PM  

    Hmmmm... one street course for another. As long as the layout allows for good solid racing, then it could be a winner.
    I could give or take Sonoma to be honest - I've never been a fan of the racing there and on TV it looks like a race in the desert and after Bahrain last week I've had enough of those.

  8. Anonymous // March 23, 2010 3:22 PM  

    Another street course not named Cleveland is the last thing Indycar needs. To truely complete Unification, Road America and Cleveland have got to be on the schedule. Champcar went to the street courses for money, look how well that worked...

    Oval wise, well, Loudon wanted on this year, Vegas has been offered, and Fontana and Atlanta both will probably lose a cup date. So there should be options

  9. Unknown // March 23, 2010 8:01 PM  

    I've attended the Mid Ohio IRL/ ALMS race weekends almost every year... please explain to me how all those people on Saturday & Sunday make this event primed for the chopping block!!!

    I will agree Cleveland brings GREAT racing, but I will also argue that attending that event live is extremely limiting. The only way to watch it is buy grandstand seats (along the top rows). I prefer to rome around Mid Ohio & its numerous viewing spots.

  10. Iannucci // March 23, 2010 9:15 PM  

    Dean, I was only suggesting that if the public support and financial assessment for Cleveland is significant then Mid Ohio could be let go due to it's regional proximity. But as it stands it seems like a sound event otherwise compared to others on the schedule.

    No need to panic because some know-nothing blogger in Arizona notes one event is targeting the same month as another.

  11. Unknown // March 24, 2010 9:44 AM  

    Iannucci: Obviously if the IRL added Cleveland to their schedule Mid Ohio might suffer. CART feared being tagged "regional" with two Ohio races 60+ minutes from each other. However, I think even though they are both RC's they attract different elements.

    I think Indycar fans want the best tracks. Midwestern fans would support numerous races in their region & IMO, fans from BOTH coasts would travel to see races live on 1st class facilities.

    I would love to see Road America ADDED to the IRL schedule... but I would hate to see Mid Ohio dropped (to see RA & Cleveland added). Also, as I said Mid Ohio crowds seem healthy (so I assume that means $$$ maker) & in no danger of being tagged as "weak" or "bottom two".

  12. Team Canada // March 26, 2010 10:45 AM  

    So, did I call it right a couple of days ago?
    Edmonton doesn't look to be going anywhere soon, especially if Honda said this is not just a 1 year deal. They must know something longer is just in the wings.