IndyCar | From Dawn till Dusk (Part 2)

The 2019 NTT IndyCar Series calendar features some of the most iconic and challenging racing circuits in North America, but there is one notable absence.

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IndyCar | From Dawn till Dusk (Part 2)
Fuente imagen: MotorLAT

As the IMSA Sportscar Championship prepares for the start of its 50th anniversary season next week, a number of the drivers and crew members competing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona will be battling it out on the streets of St. Petersburg in just 50 days, for the opening round of the NTT IndyCar Series.

The past week has seen a flurry of momentous announcements from the American open-wheel series, as the winter doldrums are now firmly packed away until the next off-season.

The biggest news of course is that the Japanese-based tech company NTT Data is now the IndyCar Series' new official technology partner and series title sponsor, replacing the American telecommunications company Verizon.

Official press and media release can be found here.

There have also been exciting announcements about the upcoming exclusive NBC Sports television coverage schedule, preseason testing at COTA, aerodynamic revisions to help make the oval racing more spectacular, team rebranding reveals, and (most importantly) the promotion of Jay Frye to the role of president. With new drivers, teams, and sponsors joining the grid this year, there will be even more eyes on the series.

Diehard fans will say, "We've been here all along," but IndyCar is truly experiencing a renaissance period at the moment. The Dallara IR18 design evokes fond nostalgic memories. Circuits that have returned and others that are rumored to return will enhance that even further. The anticipation will continue to build to a crescendo as we get closer to March 8th.

If you've read my previous opinion pieces, you know that I and many other IndyCar racing fans feel that the season ends too early, compared to other major motorsport series. Recent speculation seems to suggest a possible earlier start to the season in the near future, but it's how you finish the race---not how you start---that people remember the most.

After a recent visit to the Daytona International Speedway, for the IMSA Roar Before the 24, I imagined what it would be like to see a present-day IndyCar maneuver through the flowing infield turns and glide along the high banked oval sections of the sports car course in an actual race.

Why is the most competitive open-wheel series in the world not racing at the self-proclaimed "World Center of Racing?"

In September of 2006, IndyCar conducted a compatibility test on two different configurations of the road course with four of the participating teams at that time: Andretti Green Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Panther Racing, and Penske Racing. Among the drivers, there were current participants Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon as well as the late Dan Wheldon.

One year later, the series returned for an official two-day preseason test a week after the 24 hour race.

An early date on the calendar would be difficult to squeeze into the already crowded Daytona Speedweeks schedule of events, and it would detract from the splendid opening-day vibe of the Firestone St. Petersburg Grand Prix. The only logical place to put it on the calendar would be in autumn, when the weather is still unseasonably warm in Florida.

Call me biased, but it would be so cool (pun intended) to start and end the IndyCar season in Florida!

The final IndyCar race of the season takes place at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on September 22nd, and there is no other racing action (at the moment) until the season starts again next year.

By comparison, the IMSA WeatherTech Championship Petit Le Mans ends on October 12th of this year. The series has scheduled the second annual Michelin Encore at Sebring International Raceway for the Nov. 8-10th weekend. It's a non-championship race, but the opportunity for increased media coverage and fan engagement is extended a month after the season officially ends.

So, an ideal date to hold a non-points championship IndyCar race at DIS would be on the 19th or 26th of October (17th or 24th adjusting for the 2020 calendar year).

Imagine an NTT IndyCar Series All-Star race, started just before dusk and under the lights, on the sports car course at Daytona!

I believe that motorsport fans around the world, especially those living in Florida or able to visit, would love to see an IndyCar race that takes place one or two weeks after the Petit Le Mans, and on a Saturday evening so that the event doesn't clash with NASCAR for viewers (their races for those weekends are on a Sunday).

Previous full-time IndyCar drivers like Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya (currently driving for Acura Team Penske in IMSA) would be eligible to compete in the all-star race, since they have both won an IndyCar race or achieved a pole position within the past three years.

The best of the best would be on display, for all the world to see, as the sun officially sets on the 2020 IndyCar season.

I can think of no better way to end what is, arguably, the most competitive and entertaining open-wheel (and open-cockpit) championship racing series in the world!

Thanks for reading and, as always, I welcome your feedback.

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