DERRICK WALKER, IndyCar President of Operations and Competition and MARK MILES, CEO of Hulman Company spent time at the Verizon IndyCar season’s opener race at St. Petersburg talking with and listening to drivers, owners and teams.
Among the topics for discussion was the current short (five-month long) IndyCar season vs the longer (six-month+) off-season. Although nothing was officially released regarding the discussions, word is leaking out that there will be a longer season with more races. No more half year on and off seasons.
While the schedule won’t be officially confirmed and released until summer, it’s being said that additional races are being added after concerns, especially from drivers, about the long hiatus between the August weekend finale and the season’s opener in March.
IndyCar hopes to open the 2015season in Mexico City at the updated Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in February, where the temperatures are in the mid seventies. The noted road course has been undergoing upgrades to meet FIA F1 standards in preparation for hosting a 2015 Grand Prix. The series will then move to Brazil on 8 March 2015 at Autodromo Nelson Piquet, where the local government has promised the necessary circuit modernization will be completed.
Much of the current schedule will remain in place, with the exception of the Auto Club Speedway season’s finale and Awards Banquet moving to November, following a popular return to Australia for the Gold Coast Indy in Surfers’ Paradise the penultimate weekend in October. Despite recent gossip that the Victorian government in Melbourne might be interested in courting IndyCar after recent reports of unhappiness with FIA, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation is still saying it’s ‘this clos’e to signing a five year extension for the Melbourne F1 race at Albert Park.
IndyCar is also going back to having an expanded Spring Training, at Sebring International Raceway the week after the 2015 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. This will capitalize on availability: of the increasing number of IndyCar drivers racing in the traditional sports car event, as well as all the national media. The week-long event will start out with track days for the Mazda Road to Indy series: USFF, Mazda Pro Series and Indy Lights. The IndyCar drivers will have some downtime after the race, before going through their paces for the Media, with head shots, photo ops, promos and the like, as well as group and one-on-one interviews. The week will end with IndyCar track testing.
Miles stressed that the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has long been a popular venue on the IndyCar calendar and would remain so, despite recent reports that the original LBGP promoter, CHRIS POOK, has been trying to convince the Long Beach city government to return the event to its Formula One roots.
Filling in the gap between the August IndyCar race at Sonoma Raceway and the October Surfers’ Race is a priority, and for one of possibly two venues, IndyCar is looking at returning to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in September, which has no events during that month. Other possibilities include Road America, and The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
In the meantime, April Fool!