INDYCAR: The verdict after two races

After two races it’s possible to make an initial assessment of the changes that Indycar has implemented for 2012. The introduction of the new ‘spec’ car and multiple engine providers has clearly worked well for the series and the performance issues in ovals do not seem to be too serious (the cars clocked averages of 218mph on a recent  test at Indianapolis which mean that the organisers’ target to reach 225mph during the actual event are not unreasonable).

On the racing side, a boring race at the St. Petersburg street course was followed by a surprisingly good one at the Barber road course. This is interesting because over the past years Indycar has failed consistently to produce good races in road courses whilst the street courses tend to be more unpredictable and enjoyable to watch. Of course, the series also runs on ovals, but only five events are scheduled for 2012 – less than one third of the calendar. Races at ovals have suffered from poor attendance for years (even if the racing is good), partly because many tracks are owned by the International Speedway Corporation, a part of NASCAR that is unsurprisingly more interested in promoting NASCAR events. So Indycar has been forced to search for alternative venues, resulting in new street courses of very dubious quality (such as the one in Sao Paulo, Brazil).

Indycar needs to tackle this problem. Clearly the series would benefit from more ovals as this is the core of American racing and Indycar itself. Finding a couple of ovals abroad could be an option, especially in markets like Brazil that are already more familiar with the series. Something needs to be done about the awful street circuits as well.

Interesting to see how the next events will turn out to be. Long Beach is a classic and should go well whilst Sao Paulo, with a combination of a poor track and unpredictable weather, makes people wonder how Indycar cannot find a better venue in such an important market…

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