Monday, March 30, 2015

Musings From the Weekend: One Vision

IndyCar got underway, Formula One season got a little more interesting, MotoGP did what it always does and NASCAR did 500 laps at Martinsville. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

One Vision
Mark Miles got blasted this weekend. Roger Penske blasted aero kits, the idea of racing outside the United States and doesn't want a new car until 2020. Chip Ganassi said the six-month offseason is killing IndyCar. The two most prominent team owners took shots at IndyCar brass and it's time everyone in IndyCar got on the same page.

Segmentation has been the way too long in IndyCar. The team owners are no longer in charge of IndyCar but that doesn't mean they should lay down to Miles. It seems the overwhelming majority of those within and around IndyCar hate the six-month offseason. There are plenty of tracks within the United States IndyCar should go to (Phoenix, Road America, Laguna Seca, Michigan, Richmond, Austin) but they aren't lining up to host an IndyCar race any time soon and Formula One is greedily abandoning Europe to chase the money from every authoritarian government imaginable and as much as IndyCar needs to expand their profile in the United States and North America, it wouldn't hurt to become more popular around the globe.

Mark Miles isn't entirely right and the team owners aren't entirely right (If Penske doesn't want to spend money then he mind as well get out of motorsports). There needs to be a compromise in this vision. If the team owners are struggling to get or maintain sponsor because of the six-month offseason, then it should probably be changed. If a respectable, international promoter is going to pay IndyCar $25 million a year to host a race and the likes of Phoenix aren't interested in hosting a race, you need to take the money, not wait for Phoenix to change their mind.

I find it ironic Ganassi is now complaining about the six-month offseason considering Randy Bernard, the man who expanded the schedule length by pushing Fontana to October, a race date the track wanted, was run out of town thanks to Ganassi and John Barnes. Not looking so smart now hey there Floyd? When Fontana moved to October it created a massive gap in September. IndyCar only need to add a race or two and then the problem would have been solved but I digress. We can't fix it now.

Everyone within IndyCar, from the drivers to the team owners to Mark Miles need to come up with a common vision for the series. Otherwise another executive will be fired and the series will be stuck in upheaval once again.

Ticket Price: Revisited
Back in October after seeing the massive crowd for the MotoGP Malaysian Grand Prix I looked at ticket prices for that race and decided to compare them to the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix. To no surprise, the Formula One prices are ungodly. For MotoGP, the most expensive ticket was $110. For Formula One, it was $2,108.84. To sit in the main grandstand for MotoGP it cost $49. For Formula One, the cheapest main grandstand ticket was $203.58. Hillside tickets for Formula One were responsible, $24.47 but the MotoGP hillside ticket was $12.

It is clear why Sepang was so empty on Sunday. But Bernie made money and signed a new three-year deal for Malaysia to stay on the calendar so what does he care about the exorbitant amount of empty seats?

Other Thoughts
Why not invert the grid of the second races for the Road to Indy doubleheaders? All three series had a driver sweep the doubleheaders. Maybe make it a little more interesting. With only 13 cars in Indy Lights and the cars being close in time, I would suggest inverting the entire field but for Pro Mazda and U.S. F2000, which feature slightly larger grids and "expert" class drivers, maybe invert only the top six or eight from race one. Maybe the second race could have a different points system. I suggest 9-6-4-3-2-1 with no bonus points for laps led or fastest lap.

Pirelli World Challenge has great racing but both races this weekend were behind the safety car for over half of the 50-minute duration. The first race had a massive accident on the start after a car stalled. Maybe using rolling starts for the street courses where there is less room to avoid a sitting duck. The second race had another big incident, which blocked the track but was clean up quickly. However, there was another car stopped further along on the course and officials decided to pick that car up and tow it back to the paddock. Why not just push the stranded car behind the barrier and pick it up after the race is over? It would have shortened the safety car period in race two immensely and allowed for more on-track action for the fans.

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Juan Pablo Montoya but did you know....

Sebastian Vettel won at Malaysian Grand Prix in his second start with Ferrari.

Valentino Rossi won the MotoGP season opener from Qatar.

Denny Hamlin won the NASCAR Cup race at Martinsville.

Craig Lowndes swept the V8 Supercar races from Symmons Plains on Saturday. His Red Bull Racing teammate Jamie Whincup won the race on Sunday and took the championship lead.

Ryan Eversley and Olivier Beretta split the PWC GT races from St. Petersburg. Dean Martin and Spencer Pumpelly split the GTS races.

Three Mazda Road to Indy doubleheaders at St. Petersburg and three sweeps. Ed Jones swept the Indy Lights races, Neil Alberico swept the Pro Mazda races and Jake Eidson swept the U.S. F2000 races.

Jonas Folger won the Moto2 race from Qatar. Alexis Masbou won in Moto3.

Ryan Dungey won the Supercross race from St. Louis.

Joey Logano won the NASCAR Truck race from Martinsville.

Coming Up This Weekend
Formula E heads to the Long Beach for their second race in the United States.
Super GT has their season opener from Okayama.
Blancpain Sprint Series heads to Nogaro for their annual Easter Monday race.