While the 2015 IndyCar schedule hasn’t been formally announced yet and several questions remain, the idea of an international portion of the schedule has existed for years coming out of the Boston Consulting Group’s recommendations to improve IndyCar. Overseas races are nothing new, as CART in particular made several foreign forays going back to the 1980s and 1990s. On the whole, these haven’t tended to be successful events. Nevertheless, IndyCar is rumored to be considering places like Dubai in the Middle East and yet another new venue in Brazil. Ugh.
Since the current leadership at 16th and Georgetown is taking their sweet time in announcing where the racing will occur next year, we thought it would be helpful to propose some interesting ideas for international IndyCar races for Mssrs. Miles, Walker and Cotman to consider. Besides, it’s about time to dust off the passport and continue filling it up with stamps – 18 and counting!
IndyCar trips traditionally have been to Brazil, but it may be time for a change. Brazilian drivers have been an important part of the series for decades now going back to Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi. However, the interest in IndyCar seems to be moving north away from Brazil and toward Colombia. Well it should.
Photo from seecolombia.travel
This very year Colombians Huertas, Munoz and Montoya swept the podium at a race in Houston and they now outnumber the Brazilian drivers in the series. With that in mind IndyCar brass should consider a race in Colombia, which has advanced far beyond the drug cartel and FARC violence of the 1980s and is now a welcoming destination for American tourists. From beaches to mountains, Colombia has much to offer with the added benefit of being a shorter trip than Brazil. Crowds will throng to see their fellow Colombians race – can you imagine the reception Montoya would receive?
When it comes to racing on the Continent it’s a far more complex proposition due to a variety of factors. Drivers from Britain, France, Italy and even Russia currently compete in the IndyCar series. Obviously F-1 races primarily in Europe along with some foreign dates as well, so saturation becomes a consideration. Some countries like Switzerland have even outlawed motor racing, adding another layer of complexity. With the number of British drivers and the common culture, a race in the UK makes imminent sense. It could be held either at Brand’s Hatch or another existing circuit, unless ol’ David Cameron’s willing to build a nice short oval in the southeast in Kent.
One area of exciting potential lies in central and eastern Europe. Other than the Austria Grand Prix and Hungary Grand Prix, there aren’t any big league races in this portion of the old world providing an opening for IndyCar. Eastern Europeans absolutely adore Americans (unlike some other western Europeans) and would welcome the economic and cultural exchange. From personal experience Bratislava, Prague and Vienna are all historic, beautiful and pleasant cities to visit and the people are lovely. The beer, wine and food are outstanding. This area would be a rewarding choice for drivers and fans alike.
Due to the distances involved, visits to Australia and Asia obviously would be combined. Start off at the established track on Australia’s east coast with the streets of Surfer’s Paradise. The event has history and has done decently in the past, not to mention all the Aussies and New Zealanders in the series including the champ. There’s also the common language for the most part, and good beer. From there, it’s on to Asia – with a twist.
Photo from beertripper.com
IndyCar already lacks oval tracks on the schedule and this is exacerbated by overseas racing where oval tracks are even rarer. So make an offer to nations from India to South Korea – build a state of the art mile and a half to two mile oval track with the necessary infrastructure and amenities and IndyCar will guarantee races there for the next decade. That offer in addition to the positive publicity and tourism potential may well attract some interest on mainland Asia and be the start of a long term racing relationship with the highest bidder. It’s a win-win-win as more exciting oval racing would be added along with an exotic foreign destination, plus reaching the millions of potential race fans there.