Image: A great race in front of nearly empty stands is not a good look for Indycar.
There is no official word about the status of Texas Motor Speedway returning to the Indycar schedule in 2023, but I think Sunday’s woeful attendance was its own statement. After the great show Indycar had Sunday, it will be sad to see this track leave the circuit. I liked the track a lot, and if what we saw during the race can be replicated, rthis track needs to stay.
Without Texas, Indycar’s schedule would be reduced to 16 races. Roger Penske says 16-17 races is ideal for the series, but I think sticking to 17 is in Indycar’s best interests. The track which replaces TMS has to be an oval for several reasons.
Indycar needs some oval races, ideally 25% of the schedule. A mix of short tracks and another superspeedway besides the Indianapolis 500 would be fine. The main reason I favored the IRL during the split is because they ran ovals while the majority of CART’s races were road and street courses.
I am hearing a strong push for Milwaukee to replace Texas. I like Milwaukee, and I think Milwaukee/Road America on back to back weekends would be great. Perhaps the track could work out a combo ticket at a discount for both events.
Some fans want Homestead to return to the schedule. I have never been to Homestead, and I don’t remember much about the races there. I do recall that attendance wasn’t good at the last few races. I wonder if the F1 Miami Grand Prix would overshadow an Indycar race there. At least a race at Homestead would be affordable for the average fan.
Richmond had a spot on the schedule for 2020 but lost out to the pandemic. The fact that it wasn’t given another chance tells me there wasn’t much fan interest in it. I think that would have been a nice venue for the series.
Whichever oval replaces Texas needs to have more than just Indycar. A support series is necessary so that the track is not idle for long stretches of time. Concerts and a festival atmosphere, like Iowa has planned for July might help. Indy Lights is also running at Iowa.
World Wide Technology Raceway has always run two support races, usually Indy Lights and a lower NASCAR series. Iowa has had an ARCA series race on Indycar weekend in the past. Many fans came just for ARCA and didn’t attend the Indycar portion of the program.
There are few options for ovals with Texas off the table. A track has to show interest and heavily promote the event, a concert or some other attraction has to be lined up, and the mainly Midwest fan base has to decide if a particular track is worth the trip.