Road Racing Should Fill IndyCar Schedule

Newton, IA – The rain-soaked fan at Sunday’s IZOD Indy Car Iowa Corn Indy 250 was seeking shelter from the storm and trying to make a point at the same time: a point that I surprisingly found myself in agreement with.

Why not, he said, do Indy Car scheduling the way NASCAR does; only in reverse.

NASCAR, he said, races its Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series on a variety of tracks, mostly ovals, and throws in 2-3 road courses just for seasoning.

Sonoma and Watkins Glen for Sprint Cup, Road America, The Glen and Mid-Ohio for Nationwide and Mosport (and the dirt at Eldora) for the Camping World Trucks. This, along with ovals as diverse as Richmond, Darlington and Talladega make for an interesting variety.

But the reverse was what the fan was interested in talking about.

Why not schedule the majority of Indy Car races on road/street venues and throw in a sprinkling of ovals for diversity?

We know that ovals are already in the minority on the schedule, and so does that fan, but his theory was that open wheel formula cars (think F1), should turn both right and left more often.

Schedule Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Iowa (or whatever two-three ovals would be best alongside the 500), and do the rest on street/road courses.

Look at the half-full grandstands at Milwaukee and Texas, he added. Check all of the ovals that have dropped out of the series, most due to poor fan support: Michigan, Phoenix, Kansas, Miami, New Hampshire, Dover, Richmond, etc. and you’ll see what he’s talking about.

Long Beach, Mid-Ohio, St. Pete and Brazil exude excitement: no race other than the 500 was better than Sao Paulo this year. Road/street courses have become “events” over the years; civic celebrations in some cases. Most ovals, sorry to say, haven’t managed to reach that level.

Wisconsin’s Road America, “America’s National Park of Speed,” longs to be the third road course on the Cup schedule. But they also need an IZOD Indy Car event.

Portland, Road Atlanta, Virginia (V.I.R.) and Mosport would probably love to join RA in the series. Schedule them if they can get sponsors.
Let’s see the hillsides and corners filled instead of half-empty grandstands.

The short term future of open wheel racing may depend on changing the scheduling model.

Sponsors of teams and events feel this lack of customer support and often leave the series or cut back on their monetary support because of it.

Remember the NASCAR scheduling plan: but in reverse.

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”