The Verizon Indycar Series announced today that Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca will host the Indycar season finale in 2019. The event is scheduled for September 20-22 Indycar raced at the northern California track from1983- to 2003 under CART sanction. Champ Car sanctioned the last race in 2004.
The announcement most likely means that Sonoma will not return to the schedule. Remarks by Sonoma Raceway president Steven Page indicated that Sonoma would “seek other opportunities” if the finale moved. I think it would be difficult for that area to support two Indycar races, even though they would be at opposite ends of the calendar.
Pros and Cons of the Move
Sonoma’s attendance has been flat the last four years. I have attended since 2014, and didn’t notice an appreciable difference from year to year. Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca has a chance to build a crowd at an historic venue for Indycar. I’m not saying the racing will be better, but the opportunity to build an audience over the next three years is there. The track will be another chance to see how the new aerokit works. Sonoma this year may give us a clue.
Monterey has a larger, closer population base to draw from. The Monterey area is as beautiful as Sonoma, and is closer to more potential fans.
The track has fourteen months to promote. The management should be on the phone to Gateway to find out how to promote a race.
The race is a week later than the finale is later. Keep pushing the season toward October.
The finale is still on a road course. A road course gives the points leader heading into the event a big advantage. An oval would give the drivers behind more of a chance.
The race will finish late on a Sunday afternoon or early evening in the East, meaning less recognition for the series champion.
If Portland is still the next to last race on labor Day weekend, there will be a three week gap until the final. That is too long to build momentum for the race that could determine the championship.
I’m always willing to give tracks a chance. It will be fun watching how this event turns out.