Monday, August 22, 2016

Musings From the Weekend: Pitching A Tent

It rained at Bristol, Brno and Pocono. Two races were delayed a day. One takes place this afternoon. Cal Cructhlow won a MotoGP race. How about that? And Crutchlow wasn't the only British winner this weekend. There were a handful of first time winners this weekend. A champion ended a winless drought. More manufacture shenanigans are taking place in DTM and Martin Tomczyk is involved again but this time he is the offending party. Let's hope they don't repeat Barcelona 2007. Chris Buescher finally cracked the top thirty. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

Pitching A Tent
IndyCar has had some really good race weekend attendance this year at road courses. Barber had another stellar crowd. The return to Road America was better than expected and Mid-Ohio was another packed house. Many credit the success of these races to the camping friendly facilities. People can stay at the track all weekend. They can bring a tent or a mobile home. They can walk around the track and not be far from shelter in case the weather changes for the worse. Fans can sit out at night around a fire pit. People can mingle.

While camping may contribute to the success of road course weekends, it hasn't helped IndyCar oval races. Other than Indianapolis, the other events are staggering. Phoenix just came back and let's see what year two brings but Texas is a shadow of what it once was. Iowa is good but not as great as it was in the early years. Pocono is doing well enough to stay on the schedule but the event didn't take off like we all hoped it would after 2013.

While ovals aren't as picturesque as road courses, they are still good for camping. NASCAR races prove that. While the IndyCar oval races might not draw campers, you can't help but notice the packs of RVs crammed into infields at each NASCAR race. It has become a selling point to NASCAR events. You can spend three days at the track, park your RV, fly your flag and call it a weekend. Places like Talladega have become famous for its infield culture.

Why hasn't IndyCar had the same success in terms of camping for its oval races? People clearly do camp at IndyCar races but I highly doubt the reason why people don't camp for IndyCar oval races is the lack of elevation changes. Could it be that camping for an IndyCar race isn't emphasized enough? Or could it be that the race fans that camp out for the NASCAR races are tapped out and can't afford an additional weekend taking the RV to the track? Camping at races isn't cheap and while places such as Barber, Road America and Mid-Ohio, where IndyCar is the premier race weekend for race fans to camp at, for the ovals the IndyCar race is in some cases third in the pecking order, unless its Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

If IndyCar and the tracks can figure out how to attract campers, it would improve attendance of the races and possibly turn IndyCar oval races into a money-making enterprise, which it turn would increase the secure of these races long term.

Batting 0-for-3
Brandon Igdalsky couldn't have had a worse year for Pocono Raceway. Zero of the three major race weekends at the track took place on the schedule date. He had three Monday races. What are the odds of that? It shouldn't be a cause to panic. You can't control Mother Nature but it is astonishing nonetheless. It makes you wonder if Igdalsky and Pocono Raceway would donate money to Goodyear and Firestone to start developing a wet weather oval tire. Or maybe he will consider putting up lights. Pocono might look good at night but that might end up costing a fair amount of money. 2017 can't get any worse for Pocono Raceway

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Cal Crutchlow but did you know...

Jonas Folger won the Moto2 race at Brno. John McPhee won his first career Moto3 race.

Kevin Harvick won the NASCAR Cup race at Bristol. Austin Dillon won the Grand National Series race on Friday night. Ben Kennedy won his first career Truck race on Wednesday.

Robert Wickens and Marco Wittmann split the DTM races at Moscow Raceway. Wickens took the championship after his Saturday victory and Wittmann retook the lead with his victory on Sunday.

S├ębastien Ogier won Rallye Deutschland, his first WRC victory since Rally Sweden in February.

Yuhi Sekiguchi won the Super Formula race from Twin Ring Motegi. It was Sekiguchi's first career victory and he won the race from his first career pole position in his fourth career start.

Coming Up This Weekend
IndyCar heads to Texas to hopefully finish the Firestone 600.
Formula One is back in action at the Belgian Grand Prix.
NASCAR returns to Michigan.
The Suzuka 1000km will keep you up after the IndyCar race.
GTLM and GTD will do battle at Virginia International Raceway.
ELMS will run four hours around Circuit Paul Ricard.
Supercars will be at Sydney Motorsports Park.
Blancpain Sprint Series is in Hungary.