N B C-ya?

The news was not totally unexpected, but hearing that NBCSN would shut down at the end of this year still was a shock. The network, part of NBC, has been the home for many NTT Indycar Series races over the last few years, becoming more prominent since NBC obtained exclusive rights to Indycar in 2018. There will also be a change to NBC Gold in 2021. This season will not be affected.

Per Mark Miles: “NBC Sports has always been a transparent partner, and we were aware of this upcoming strategy shift. Our 2021 broadcast schedule is not impacted by this decision. We plan to discuss our future broadcast arrangements in the late spring.”

NBC Gold, for about $45 a season, provided access to all practices and qualifications. That access may move to NBC’s new Peacock streaming service. I’m hearing $4.99 a month. I’m not sure if you have to pay for a 12 month period or just go month to month.

Indycar’s deal with NBC expires at the end of the 2021 season. When the dthree year deal was announced, Miles said it was a short deal so that Indycar could explore new broadcast developments.

What are the options? Some are good, some not so good.

Stay with NBC and show part of the schedule on USA network. The first Harvest Grand Prix was on USA in October. USA is in about six million more households than NBCSN. There are advantages to a network with more potential viewers. I actually had to find which channel number USA is on my provider to record the race. Normally, I never watch it. How long will it take viewers to find it? For 2021, a record nine races will be on NBC and eight are on NBCSN. Will NBC keep nine races on its flagship channel going forward?

Streaming options- Peacock, You Tube, and other streaming services have been mentioned. How will this affect the older die hard fans who may not be as tech savvy as the younger, more casual fans? I still don’t understand how streaming works and how you get it on a television set.

A different network? I would really prefer not to return to ABC. Their race broadcasts were not very good, they treated Indycar as an afterthought, and I found myself muting the television and listening to the radio broadcast most of the time.

Could CBS have an interest? I remember watching a few races on CBS in the 70s. I know things have changed drastically since then. I recall being singularly unimpressed with camera angles and the booth not keeping track of the race.

Whoever Indycar choses or their broadcast partner or partners, I would like to see the same announcing team for all races to provoide continuity. I hope the series can keep Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell, Kevin Lee, Rick DeBruhl, Katie Kiel, and bring back Jon Beekhuis.

Once again, Indycar fans have to go through some uncertainty regarding where to atch the races on television. I have faith in Roger penske and the Indycar team that they will fuind the best option possible. I am also aware that not everyone will be happy with the final decision.

Indycar Announcement of Schedule Change for Barber

Indycar’s official announcement.

INDYCAR Announces Update
for 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Opener
Series to raise curtain on new season April 18 on NBCINDIANAPOLIS (Friday, Jan. 22, 2021) – INDYCAR officials have announced the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opener at Barber Motorsports Park has been rescheduled from Sunday, April 11 to Sunday, April 18. The move results in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst being featured on NBC network television. A record nine events will air on NBC this season. It’s the first time the 2.38-mile road course will host the opener for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. A return to the popular Birmingham, Alabama, racecourse leads an opening stretch of four races in 15 days with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (April 25) and a doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway (May 1-2) to follow. NBC will air the first two races of the new season and six of the first eight from April to June. “The schedule changes we’ve had, while partially prompted by ongoing pandemic conditions, give us a powerful start to the 2021 season,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “With six of our first eight races on network television and all in a more compact timeline, it’s an enormous opportunity to drive even more momentum as we deliver our exciting brand of racing to our fans.” Barber Motorsports Park became an instant hit among INDYCAR drivers when the series first tested on the fast and undulating circuit in 2007. A fan favorite, as well, this year marks the 11th time the series will race there, a tradition that started in 2010. Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden is the winningest driver at Barber, with three wins. Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato is the most recent winner. “Zoom Motorsports and Barber Motorsports Park jumped at the opportunity to have our event showcased on NBC network television” said Gene Hallman, CEO of Zoom Motorsports. “We are proud of the tremendous support that INDYCAR receives annually here in the heart of the deep south. The facility and museum are world class, and we look forward to highlighting George Barber’s vision in what has become a bucket list destination for all race fans.” An updated listing of green flag times for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule will be announced at a later date.
The updated schedule for those of you playing at home:

Season Opener Moving to April 18; Shown on NBC

The shift was bound to happen. As reported by other sources last night, The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park has been moved to April 18. The move allows the race to be on NBC rather than NBCSN. Barber is till the season opener and the Firestone Grand Prix of St, Petersburg follows a week later.

The NTT Indycar Series now begins its season with three consecutive weekends and four races. Following St. Pete, the series goes to Texas for a Saturday/Sunday doubleheader May 1 and 2.

Activity begins at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 14 with GMR Grand Prix weekend.

End of Schedule Changes?

I wouldn’t count on it. With rumblings that the Olympics will be cancelled, NBC Sports networks will have a lot of time to fill. Like last year, Indycar now has some fallback dates. I doubt that any new races will be added, but Indycar has to do something to stay in public view between the Toronto race on July 11 and the Music City Grand Prix August 8.

Today’s move is the third schedule change and the season hasn’t started. Last year there were six schedule changes.

Race for Equality and Change Taking Proactive Approach

This week’s announcement of Paretta Autosport with technical assistance from Team Penske adds another dimension to the Race for Equality and Change. Paired with Force Indy, which intends to promote African Americans in the sport, the REC is attempting to expand the reach and appeal of Indycar.

Beth Paretta’s experience and her contacts in motorsports is a plus for the new team.

Beth Paretta

Bringing Simona De Silvestro back to the Indianapolis 500 is a great move. De Silvestro has endured all kinds of misfortune at IMS from fire to uncompetitive cars. This might be her best shot at success.

Simona De Silvestro

The next step for the Race fo Equality and Change is to bring other interested teams and individuals. I would love to see Jacki Henricher become involved with Indycar.

Rossi Tops Sebring Test Day

Photo: Indycar, Chris Owens

Alexander Rossi led a strong showing by Andretti Autosport at Sebring on Tuesday with a quick lap of 52.27 seconds. Teammate Colton Herta was second, followed by Jack Harvey and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan duo of Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato were next in line.

Photo-Chris Owens Indycar

Harvey, of Meyer Shank Racing had a technical alliance with Andretti last year. I look for a strong year from Harvey. The team has a full year under their belt, and having Helio Castroneves as a teammate for six races should help as well.

Dalton Kellett and A, J, Foyt Racing tested both days and seemed happy with the team’s progress.

Paretta Autosport Brings Female-Led Team to Indy; DeSilvestro Returns to the 500

Simona De Silvestro returns to the Indianapolis 500 with Paretta Autosport, headed by Beth P.aretta. The team will receive technical support from Team Penske. More details later.

The announcement from Indycar:

Paretta Autosport, a new NTT INDYCAR SERIES race team spearheaded by female automotive and motorsport executive Beth Paretta, has announced its entry for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

2010 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Simona De Silvestro has been announced as the driver for Paretta Autosport, which will utilize Chevrolet power and run the No. 16 for this year’s legendary “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” The 32-year-old from Switzerland is a veteran of five Indianapolis 500 starts.

The team is an extension of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s “Race for Equality & Change” announced last July. Team Penske will provide technical support to Paretta Autosport in assisting in the preparation for competing in the race Sunday, May 30.

Paretta Autosport will integrate women in the team to ensure that it provides opportunities, including competition, operations and administrative roles such as logistics, marketing and public relations.

“Today is the beginning of a commitment to gender equity in sport, to encourage women to work hard so they can earn their seat at the table or spot on the grid,” Paretta Autosport Team Principal Beth Paretta said. “INDYCAR has been a leader and a welcoming place for women for many years because of the hard work of many women and men before us, but now we have a stronger commitment with INDYCAR’s ‘Race for Equality & Change’ to make sure opportunities continue in the future.

“Our team, along with our technical alliance with Team Penske, will work hard to give Simona the best car we can provide so she can achieve her best results. Competition drives us. The Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world, and one day soon we hope to have a woman’s face on the Borg-Warner Trophy.”

Said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp.: “We are pleased to welcome Beth and her Paretta Autosport team to INDYCAR this year. Her team’s addition to the INDYCAR ‘Race for Equality & Change’ program this year will ensure that INDYCAR and the Indianapolis 500 continues the legacy of having a female driver qualify for the 2021 Indy 500. Of course, it will be up to Simona and the team to qualify the car for the grid, but knowing Beth, I know that her team will be up for the task.”

Paretta has a long history as an automotive and motorsports executive in leadership roles with some of the most respected performance brands, including SRT (Street and Racing Technology) at FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), where she was the first female director to lead a performance brand and motorsports for an original equipment manufacturer. In that role, she led successful racing programs that earned three national championships: the NASCAR Cup Series championship for Dodge with Team Penske in 2012, the IMSA GTLM championship with the factory Viper GTS-R program in 2014, and the Trans Am championship with the Dodge Challenger TA2 in 2014. She is also a board member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

In addition to her Rookie of the Year honors in 2010, De Silvestro also captured the Tony Renna Firestone Rising Star Award for her 14th-place finish. Her accomplishments throughout the motorsports world are numerous after competing in Australian Supercars, as a Formula One development driver, in Formula E, the IMSA SportsCar Championship and, since 2019, as a factory driver for Porsche.

“I am very excited to have this incredible opportunity to return to Indianapolis and the Indy 500 with Paretta Autosport this year,” De Silvestro said. “My career really took off through my time competing in INDYCAR and the Indy 500, so returning to compete with Beth and her new team in alliance with Team Penske is a special and rare chance in my career. Being part of the goal of diversity and inclusion for everyone, and especially women in INDYCAR, and in motorsports in general, is very important to me and how I would like to see the future of racing. I want to thank the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for taking such an important leadership role in providing gender and overall diversity inclusion in motorsports.”

Dixon Leads First Test Day

Photos courtesy of Vincent Anderson

Scott Dixon led a Chip Ganassi Racing 1-2-3 in the first day of testing for the 2021 season yesterday. Dixon’s best lap of 52.32 seconds on the Sebring short course was followed by teammates Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou. Sebastien Bourdais, driving for A. J. Foyt Racing, was fourth on the day.

Marcus Ericsson

Seven time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, preparing for his first Indycar race at Barber in April, completed the most laps of the seven drivers involved Monday, 160. He was last on the speed chart, but tspeed wasn’t his objective. Johnson was there to learn the car.

Jimmie Johnson in his first full Indycar test day.

Today at Sebring Andretti Autosport and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing have their first on track test of the year.

There will be a special announcement at 11 am Eastern today regarding the Race for Equality and Change. The announcement will be streamed on Indycar.com. I’ll be back with a quick announcement summary right after the conference and somje thoughts later today.

Marco Will Run Indy Only, Looks at Other Racing Options

Photo from Marco Andretti Twitter

In a surprise announcement this afternoon, Marco Andretti said he will not drive full time in the 2021 NTT Indycar Series. Andretti said he will still enter the Indianapolis 500 and possibly some other selected races. Marco hopes to do some sports car racing in IMSA and explore other racing opportunities.

The 98 did not qualify for the 2021 Leader’s Circle money and US Concrete is not returning as a primary sponsor. Marco has struggled the last few years on track. He won the pole for the 2020 Indianapolis 500 but finished 13th, not leading a lap.

It will be strange but not unprecedented not seeing the Andretti name on track. Mario and Michael Andretti only did the 500 while driving full time in Formula 1.

Marco’s statement from his Twitter account:

“Upon careful thought over the past couple of months, I have made the decision to make some changes to my racing activities and focus for 2021,” said Andretti. “I recently shared this decision and the changes that I want to make with my dad (Michael) and have spoken at length with him about it. I appreciate his openness and for allowing me the flexibility to map out my own course going forward.

“I am fortunate to be in a position at Andretti Autosport to run the full IndyCar season if I want to. But, instead, I have decided to change up my direction somewhat — to reset, to do something a little different — look at everything fresh and see where that takes me. And, to me, now seems like the appropriate time to do that.

“I definitely am going to keep driving. I still have a deep passion for it and have unfinished business to take care of and some boxes that I want to check before I consider retiring as a driver.

“First and foremost, I remain very hungry to win the Indy 500. It is our biggest stage and the place that I feel I bring the most to the table as a driver. I’ve come close there and am in the mix there it seems each year. Winning the pole there last year was awesome but that isn’t enough — I know that a victory there is in my future so we’ll try to get that done in the coming years. As such, I have committed to and am looking forward to running the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport this year.”

“In addition to being squarely focused on the Indy 500, I might also take a look at running some other races on the IndyCar schedule as the season progresses, in order to remain ‘car fit.’ I have also offered to help the team with some testing and other activities along the way,” Marco said. “And, I may look at different opportunities in all of motorsports. My involvement in my Andretti Autosport entry will continue.

“I also want to do some sports car racing — maybe even get the chance to do IMSA events with my cousin Jarett, which would be a lot of fun for me. I’ll be looking into other sports car opportunities as well in the coming months and welcome discussions in that regard. Marquee events like the (Rolex 24) 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and Le Mans would be on that list for sure.

“I am excited for what the future holds for me both on and off the track and, again, am grateful to Dad and Andretti Autosport for allowing me the freedom to change things around as I’d like and to proceed forward a little differently this upcoming season.”

Michael Andretti, Marco’s father, emphasized that the decision was Marco’s alone. Andretti’s decision does not affect James Hinchcliffe’s situation. Hinchcliffe is expected to be confirmed soon as a full time drive for Andretti Autosport for this coming season. Hinchcliffe will not be in the 98.

St. Pete Moves to April 25; Barber Inherits Season Opener

From Indycar this morning:

INDYCAR Announces Update
to 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Schedule
Series to return to popular Streets of St. Petersburg in April INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021) – INDYCAR officials have announced the 2021 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is being rescheduled for Sunday, April 25 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The move creates a condensed, action-packed early-season schedule for 2021. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES returns to the Streets of St. Petersburg after Josef Newgarden’s thrilling win last October, which culminated with Scott Dixon’s sixth series title. NBC will remain as the television home of this year’s race on the tight, demanding street layout. “It’s not surprising that an event of this magnitude, scheduled for the first week of March, is still subject to the implications of the pandemic,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “We’re delighted we were able to work with Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration and Green Savoree Racing Promotions to find a more suitable date, which helps consolidate the beginning of our schedule and allows us to stay on NBC network television.” Due to the move, Barber Motorsports Park becomes the host of the season opener as the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will raise the curtain on the 2021 season. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will mark the 18th NTT INDYCAR SERIES event in the Sunshine City. The traditional season opener since 2011 and a fan favorite on the INDYCAR schedule, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg received a three-year title sponsorship extension from Bridgestone Americas, Inc. last October. “We appreciate the officials at INDYCAR for their support in setting a new date for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and also to Mayor Kriseman and his team at the City of St. Petersburg for identifying a time when it will be conducive for more fans to attend,” said Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of GSSP, organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. “We are grateful to keep the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in the springtime window and also maintain the live national broadcast coverage of the race on NBC.” An updated listing of green flag times for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule will be announced at a later date.

Buying Time- Changes at the Front of the Schedule?

Indycar is considering pushing the opening of the season into April. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is set to start the 2021 NTT Indycar Series the weekend of March 5-7. At that time attendance restrictions will likely still be in place. By moving the race to late April the series and Green Savoree Promotions are hoping for fewer restrictions as more COVID vaccinations will have been given by then. Green Savoree lost two races last season, Toronto and Portland. They hosted a double header weekend at Mid Ohio with just 6,000 fans a day and held the St. Pete race as the season finale with a limited number of fans.

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, originally set for April 18, is now the season finale September 26.

The new calendar may have Barber moving back a week as well and serving as the season opener. Currently slotted for the weekend of April9-11, Barber would move to April 17-18, followed by St. Pete the following weekend. Through 2011, St. Pete and Barber were on back to back weekends.

St. Pete has not put tickets on sale as of yet with the race scheduled about eight weeks away. This tells that that something is going on. The decision needs to be made soon, since the track build would have to begin around the first if February.

Other series have either postponed or placed restrictions on their early events. Formula1 has postponed the first race, the Australian Grand prix to a yet to be determined date later in the season. IMSA has modified attendance and infield access for the Rolex 24. The Tulsa Shootout and the Chili Bowl will go on as scheduled with limited attendance and restricted fan access. The Tulsa health department will monitor the Shootout and may shut down the Chili Bowl if rules including mask wearing are not enforced.

Changes at the Rolex 24 Hours

Changes for the Rolex 24 emailed to ticket holders two weeks ago:

Unfortunately because of these required protocols, the following experiences have been cancelled:

  • Garage Access
  • Fan access to grid walk and ballfield for pre-race festivities
  • Infield Tent Camping
  • Infield Car Camping
  • GEICO Park West Tent Camping
  • Café 24 Breakfast

All 2021 Rolex 24 At DAYTONA 2-Day or 4-Day admissions are still on your account and will be available to download/print approximately two weeks before the event as we will not be mailing tickets or camping passes in 2021. This also includes your free admission to the Roar Before the Rolex 24, January 22-24. For more information on how to access your tickets using Tickets @ Home, click here. For our guests with a cancelled experience, we understand this news is disappointing and we have placed a credit on your account for the cancelled experiences.

We recognize that many factors, including your ability to travel, may have been impacted by the pandemic, and we want you to understand your options as you make decisions related to attending the 2021 Rolex 24. Please carefully read your options below based on your specific Rolex 24 At DAYTONA experience.

We thank you in advance for your cooperation in keeping everyone safe.


RV CAMPING INFO

RV Campers will be limited to six people per campsite, and all RVs must be self-contained as shower facilities will be closed. In addition, for the safety of our competitors and staff, the garages, paddock and pit road will be closed to fans, and the grid walk and ballfield access will be also be closed to fans for the 2021 event. As a result, Garage access is no longer included with the 4-day admission. We understand this news is disappointing, and we have placed a credit on your account amounting to 20% of your 4-day admissions.

Four day parking is available for $60. Cars must leave the track at the close of each day’s activities. This does not apply to race day.