It is not news to any of us that the economy has made everyone cut back. Businesses have closed, been bought out, and let many long-time workers go. Even the Greatest Spectacle in Racing was affected. Is that all about to change?
The “Month of May” was condensed into a two-week flurry of action at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The changes were made in a cost-cutting effort, which has yielded positive results. In the past 2 years alone, officials have reduced IMS staffing by nearly 20 percent, including big changes to the Brickyard Crossing Inn.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the change were the out-of-town teams, as they saved at least $10,000 in hotel accommodations, possibly more. You then have to figure in the cost of food and the cost of cleaning all of the uniforms.
The Speedway itself has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past few years. They haven’t needed as big of a staff as they had during the month-long format.
There are some good reasons why INDYCAR should consider going back to the old format for May.
As it stands right now, there are only four oval races on the schedule for 2012. There won’t be any ovals before the series comes to Indianapolis. When you consider how little the teams have had to work on the new cars and engines, it seems everyone could benefit from the extra practice.
The lack of ovals has also pushed away some of the fans that crave the high-speed races. The series was born with these tracks, though the best ones (Kentucky, Michigan, Kansas, Richmond, Chicagoland, Nashville, New Hampshire) aren’t on this year’s schedule. Iowa, Texas, and California are good, but it’s simply not enough.
There are rumors swirling that Milwaukee could be added to the schedule soon, giving the series a total of five ovals; if you include the rectangular IMS as an oval.
Fans will surely have a hunger for more ovals during the course of this season. That, coupled with the uncertainty of the new car/engines at IMS still might not be enough to get the format switched back. The cost of changing it back would be too much for the teams, and the Speedway to bear.
With the extra practice time, comes the added risk of someone making a mistake on the track. Crashing a car during practice almost ensures that you’re going to be behind. Some teams actually have to fold up and retire from the event early, as was the case last year with Dragon Racing.
Now that we have officially welcomed in 2012, the countdown to this year’s Indianapolis 500 stands at 146 days.