Miles: Focused on May; Looking for Fullest Season Possible

Mark  Miles addressed the media this afternoon following the mid day cancellation of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He said the series felt it was the right thing to do for everyone’s well being. More cancellations of other sporting events after yesterday’s announcement that the race would be held may have been a factor. NASCAR also cancelled its race slated for Sunday. But Miles is looking ahead.”…we are absolutely focused on May,” he said. The series will continue to evaluate the situation and adjust accordingly. Miles hinted that there might be adjustments to the May schedule.

In cancelling the first four races of the season, Miles explained that it was in everyone’s best interests. He has the support of the NTT Indycar Series’ partners.

“We’re going to race as much as we can race. It was clear to us from overnight and this morning that the right thing to do right now was to suspend our competition, really all on-track activity through April…But really I think what happened subsequently was the sense that it’s not responsible to ask people to get together. ”

Asked about possibly running doubleheaders to increase the number of races, Miles said the idea will be “taken into account, when we make the plan going forward. What can a broadcaster cover? What can the promoters do? What works for Honda and Chevy and our suppliers? We’ll do whatever is possible to do to create the fullest season. ”

Some Thoughts

In the 1950s the Indianapolis 500 was the first race of the season, so starting in May is not unprecedented.

Double headers would be nice at some places, but not at the expense of the Road to Indy or other support series.

Long Beach as the season finale would be great. Both IMSA and Indycar will be out there anyway.

I appreciate Indycar making every possible effort to run the race this weekend.

 

Miles Happy with Series’ Growth

“In almost every metric our marketing, promotional, and commercial initiatives are growing the sport and hopefully gaining more fans,” Mark Miles,  president of Hiulman and Company,  began the state of the NTT Indycar Series media availability this morning at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Miles noted the solid, consistent car count and the growth of entries for the Indianapolis 500 and race attendance.   Eight races have shown a year over year increase and four events set weekend records More than 1,5 million fans have attended the first 16 races this season.

Miles said that 97%  of sponsors in place for 2020.  He expects to add another meaningful sponsorship  before the end of the year.

On the television side,  1.129 million viewers have watched  through the first 15 races. Eleven races have experienced growth.

Miles does not see an Indycar/ NASCAR doubleheader before 2022. He believes it would work best at a track where both series race. He is still looking to add two races outside the United States in February. Nothing is imminent, however.

Jay  Frye, Indycar president, said the aeroscreen tests scheduled for October are the final sign off. He doesn’t believe there will be any issues on track.  The tests are October 2  at IMS, October 7 at   Barber, and  October 15  at Richmond.

Frye said there are 10 Requests for Proposals out for the hybrid component expected to debut in 2022. He is excited about the cars being able to restart themselves and the added horsepower the unit will help produce.

Back after today’s second practice

 

 

 

 

News From the Other Side of the World- Return to Paradise?

First, The Pit Window wishes Sophia Floersch a speedy recovery from injuries suffered in the Macau F3 race on Sunday. It was one of the most horrifying crashes I’ve ever seen.  That no injuries were life threatening or life altering is amazing. More on this later.

Mark Miles visited Queensland, Australia, to discuss the possibility of Indycar returning to Surfers Paradise in 2020. His trip was triggered by the interest expressed by the Premier of Queensland, Anastacia  Palaszczuk, when Will Power visited on a tour of his native land.  I think this might happen, but my stance is always believe it when it’s official. Think Boston and China.

Indycar had a history in Surfers Paradise as both a season opener and a late season event. Cart/ Champ Car raced in Australia from 1991-2008. The race was held in March from 1991-97. When F1 decided they wanted a March date, the event moved to October. The last race in 2008 was a non points race due to the IRL/ChampCar merger. Will Power won the pole and Ryan Briscoe won the race. Sebastien Bourdais is the only driver to win this event twice, in 2005 and 2007.

Indycars ran on a 2.78 mile track.  The current configuration used mainly by V8 Supercars, is 1.85 miles. Street circuits tend to change as new buildings go up.

Miles has stated many times he would like to begin the season with an international race. Would St. Pete be willing to move their date again and give up their opening spot? The race already moved ahead two weeks a couple years ago. The move created some issues for the Mahafffey Theater and the performances they had booked. The series came to an agreement, but is the theater willing to be as nice a second time?  The St, Pete contract with Indycar believe goes through 2021.

The Floersch Accident

Sunday’s fence-involved crash was different from the Robert Wickens crash at Pocono. Floersch’s car left the track, flying through the fence. The fence dissipated energy and other safety improvements at the track beyond the wall helped minimize injuries.

Given the severity of the two incidents, I hope series world wide take a hard look at current fencing design and how it can be improved. I am not in favor of plexiglass, hockey arena type of protection. I think a rigid bounce back onto the track system creates another set of problems. I plan a further column about this subject early next year after some more research.

Floersch underwent a seven hour surgery Monday. There are no indications of paralysis.

PRI Show

I will be at the Performance Racing Industry  show in Indianapolis December 6,7 and 8. Look for my reports on Wildfire Sports. I may have some comments here, but the bulk of my stories will be on the Wildfire site. The Unsers will be honored at the show.

Last, I wish all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful to all of you. Thanks for making this a record year for The Pit Window.

 

Bondurant School Closes; Tracks Begin Ticket Renewals; Return to Surfer’s Paradise? Wickens News

Autosport reports this afternoon the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving has shut its doors.  Bondurant began a school for race drivers in the early 60’s after an injury during a race ended his driving career. Bill Shaw, Wilbur’s son, was an instructor at the school.

Celebrities like Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise Tim Allen, and Nicholas Cage attended the driving school.  A huge number of racing drivers also took instruction there. Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, and Rick Mears were some of the many racing starts who honed their craft at the Bondurant School.

The Chandler, Arizona, site was also the venue for the Road to Indy shootout, which now needs to find another location soon. The shootout is scheduled for December 8 and 9.

Portland, St. Pete Ticket Renewal Periods Begin

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and The Grand Prix of Portland have opened ticket renewal periods. Fans who purchased tickets last year can renew or change seat locations before the general public sale begins.

Contact:

tickets@gpstpete.com

pir@portlanoregon.gov

Miles Flying to Australia

Mark Miles is flying to Australia to investigate the possibility of Indycar returning to Surfer’s Paradise. The premiere of Queensland, Annasacia Palaszaczuk,  expressed interest in hosting an  Indycar race during Will Power’s trip to his homeland.  Power referred her to Miles.

Surfer’s Paradise was always a fun race to watch, especially when it was the season opener.

Norman Returns to Andretti Indy Lights Ride

Ryan Norman has re-signed with Andretti Autosport for a third season in Indy Lights. Norman showed marked improvement last year. He won the pole for the Freedom 10 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and won the race at Gateway Motorsports Park after a spirited duel with Colton Herta.

Wickens Loses the Back Brace

In a new Instagram video from Robert Wickens, he discards the back brace he has worn virtually since he was injured. Here is the link to the video: