Positive Prospects For Motorsports

New Berlin, WI – Racing commentator/reporter Robin Miller was taken to task recently for having a negative outlook toward certain aspects of the sport.

I posted a Tweet a few days ago that said: “Hard to believe the slim Charlotte crowd last night in the heart of NASCAR land. If they’re not interested, should we be?”

But, are things that bad and falling apart in the sport that we’ve grown-up with and enjoyed, or are the naysayers on the right track with their (my) negative outlooks? Let’s see if we can think hard and come up with some positive happenings that may give us a good start to the upcoming 2013 season and beyond.

• News came last month that the Rolex Grand Am and American Le Mans series will combine for the 2014 season. The two groups have been running separate Prototype and GT events for many years, but with different rules and philosophies, varying success at the gate and a lack of growth especially in the prototype classes. A coming together will strengthen US sports car racing once rules packages, classes and schedules get worked out. A combined weekend for both groups at Road America in August, 2013, should be road course-heaven for fans.

• Despite somewhat stagnant TV ratings, the rights to telecast racing events still seem to be a desirable commodity for networks to own. NBC and its NBC Sports Network recently purchased the rights to telecast Formula One events in the US; a package owned for the past 16 years by FOX and its Speed Channel outlet. The NBCSN also owns rights to a majority of IndyCar events, and the two open wheel series should complement each other and grow new fans for both. Fox Sports Media Group also announced an extension of its agreement with NASCAR for “multiplatform media rights” covering a variety of events through the 2022 season- including exclusive coverage of the Daytona 500. It’s a healthy sign for the sport when media outlets are bidding millions of dollars to telecast motorsports.

• The International Motorsports Industry Show in Indianapolis will bring together thousands of grassroots racers from oval tracks, drag strips and road courses to have a look at the latest in chassis, motors and more parts than you could ever need. With over 500 exhibitors showing their wares and numerous workshop sessions for competitors, the December 6-8 gathering at the Indiana Convention Center reaffirms the strength of local/regional/national racing; both amateur and professional.

• ARCA showed a bit of creativity recently when it came to an agreement with Road America to schedule a race on the 4.048-mile road course as a Saturday, June 22 support event on the track’s NASCAR Nationwide Series weekend. ARCA will now have two races in the Badger state as it is expected to once again appear at Madison International Speedway in August. ARCA also has another road course event planned for New Jersey Motorsports Park-date TBA. Now all Road America needs is IZOD IndyCar/Sprint Cup races on its 2014 schedule.

• Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Ross Kenseth, Chris and James Buescher, Austin and Ty Dillon, Brandon McReynolds, Parker Kligerman, Brad Sweet, Cole Whitt, Travis Pastrana, Kelly Bires, Alex Bowman, Johanna Long, Jeb Burton, Nelson Piquet Jr., Kyle Larson, Justin Lofton and Darrell Wallace Jr. . NASCAR Sprint Cup 2018 looks pretty good.

• Formula One is about to reappear in the US after a five-year hiatus with its November debut in Austin, TX. Though many gave the event virtually no chance to happen, the Circuit of the Americas is almost ready to go, and despite sky-high ticket prices, a large crowd is expected to welcome F1 back to our shores.

Combined with a planned second event in the New York City/New Jersey-area in 2014, F1 should become a fixture here for many years to come. All that’s needed now are a couple of US drivers in the series. Hurry up Conor Daly and Jonathan Summerton.

We’ll look at some more ‘positive’ news next week.

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