Topic 1: Derrick Walker is looking into the feasibility of having a canopy on the new IndyCar that would be produced in 2018. Racer Magazine ran the article and by looking at the comments, most fans did not like the idea. What are your thoughts on an IndyCar having some type of canopy?
TonyD: It will be hard to prove that this will work during a crash or race conditions if a driver can get out quickly without it trapping the driver in. It seems so futuristic .. but it’ll be 2018 and that is the future. Hopefully they can run some tests and simulations to make sure it is safe.. won’t blow open during a race and the driver can escape easily when in danger.
Ashley:I can understand some wanting a canopy in order to improve driver safety, but I am not a fan of this idea. I think a canopy would take away from what IndyCar has been and is meant to be.
Rick: The canopy idea is interesting and demands some research, if for no other reason than safety. Having seen the cowls and helmets at the end of these races, it is hard for me to imagine how it will work from a visibility perspective. There would have to be some way of quick exit in case of fire, or at least the ability for a driver to get himself out in a hurry if needed. From the appearance perspective, it can be incorporated into the overall look and still be cool. For a series that is supposed to be built on innovation, it would be irresponsible not to look into it.
Tomas: I have not seen how it looks, but that’s irrelevant to me. Anything around the driver’s head needs to be tested and 100% proven to be more safe before introducing it to the sport. If it is, than I’m for it.
Topic 2: How does IndyCar generate news and garner media attention with the season ending Labor Day weekend? Fans are waiting for the 2015 schedule to be sorted out but it looks like it could be 7 months before the first race in 2015.
TonyD: Tough. They need to stop worrying about going up against the NFL. I would love some September and early October Saturday afternoon and evening races. 7 months off is way too long .. too much over saturation of races in June. They need to spread out the schedule.
Ashley: IndyCar will have to focus many of their off-season marketing and PR efforts outside of the sports realm. There are people out there that love racing and will always love racing. What this time can now be used for is bringing in new fans that aren’t as familiar with the sport. It is important for them to continue to sell drivers like Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay and their success throughout the past season.
Tomas: It’s tough for fans, drivers and teams. You can have as many races as possible and keep the season going as long as possible so fans are somewhat forced to get into it—like NASCAR— in my opinion.
You can starve the fans so they become hungry for the first race of the season, and their energy could be higher throughout the season as they will appreciate it’s presence. When you have good racing, good coverage, and good story lines, then it doesn’t matter which option you choose
Rick: Good question and I have no idea. IndyCar had a good week with the JR Hildebrand event at IMS. That was really cool. I would suggest more of that, if someone is willing to pay for it.
Topic 3: There is much to be decided with this years Silly Season. Pagenaud and Hinchcliffe haven’t decided, AA would like to run a 5th car, Schmidt-Peterson has not announced their drivers and not sure if Mike Conway will be back to drive road/street for CFH. How do you see this playing out? Any bold predictions?
TonyD: I’ll put Conway back at CFH Racing. Simon winds up at either Ganassi or Penske. Ill say Penske, in the #10.. TK moves to the #8 car and Briscoe is out. Hinch winds up with Schmidt Peterson and Andretti could go after Briscoe but doesn’t seem likely. Those are bold, and I expect them to be wrong!
Ashley: I can see Conway returning to CFH for road/street races and I think Pagenaud will stay with Schmidt-Peterson. My guess is that Andretti may end up staying with four cars and have the same lineup as last year, but have a fifth car for Indy. One thing to watch for will be RLL. With the National Guard leaving IndyCar, I could see Bobby choosing to sit out a season like he did a few years ago if he’s not able to come up with enough sponsorship.
Tomas: I’m not sure, and to be honest, none of it truly excites me. Not too sure if it’s because I am a driver or because I am not sure if any of those names mentioned would influence viewership greatly. (No disrespect Conweezy he’s a great mate) All of those drivers are top talent but in the grand scheme of things I don’t think it will change a thing as far as interest in the sport. I might just be out the loop.
Rick: Hinch is back with AA. Other than that, I have no good guess. We have 7 months to figure it out.
Topic 4: Will Power finally won his first IndyCar Championship He had been so close and to finally put it all together is a huge accomplishment. What does Will’s championship mean for IndyCar as he is well respected in other motorsports and could this be the beginning of a Will Power Era, now that the monkey is off his back?
TonyD:Will has truly improved a lot on ovals which led to him winning the championship. He is a favorite to win it again next year. I think it’s great that Verizon’s driver won the championship. I expect Montoya to be top 3 in the points next year as well.
Ashley:I definitely think the monkey is off his back and this could just be the beginning of more great things to come for him. IndyCar should capitalize on Power, especially throughout the offseason.
Tomas:I think it’s about time. Will is massively talented and has probably the best team in IndyCar. It would be stupid to bet against the kid winning it again. On top of that, he is a character and extremely passionate. He’s not scared to say what he thinks and has a degree in sign language. Not sure how he will perform next year. I know he is very vocal on safety on ovals. Not sure if achieving a championship will slow him down on the ovals or possibly make him more relaxed, consistent and possibly even quicker. If I was gonna have a Pete Rose weekend in Vegas I would put my money on Power.
Rick:We may have been in the Will Power era for a couple of years. Power’s ability is well respected and almost everyone in the motorsports world has been expecting him to add a Championship to his resume.
Topic 5: Miles is committed to finishing the season by Labor Day and credited this as one reason IndyCar is in the black this year. One issue is it makes it really hard to add races with such a limited window. The only alternative is to start the season earlier. What are your thoughts?
TonyD:Start the season the week before the 24 hours of Daytona in January. Race fans are so starved for racing that they count down the days until the 24 hours. Even if you run the first race of the year in January and take a few weeks off, be the first American series to race. Give people a reason to watch and get them hooked early.
Ashley: If we were to start 2015 earlier with a couple international races, such as Brazil, I think that is just fine. It is still important for the series to grow its popularity within the US, so more races are a must. I think Labor Day is far too early to be done with the season. If fans enjoy racing, it won’t matter if there is an NFL game on that same weekend. Take a look at NASCAR, F1, even Red Bull GRC. There are other forms of racing still taking place right now that fans follow. I think we should easily be having 20-25 races per season.
Tomas: Always good when the series can makes money. As long as it’s not effecting the long term health of the series just to make some money short term.
Rick: Ending the season before Labor Day is a ridiculous idea. But it is where we are. So absent a change in that position, I would really like to see how the abbreviated schedule impacted the move to black ink. I mean there were at least a couple of events that were so poorly attended in the heat of summer it caused the cancellation of next years events. If shrinking the schedule is producing positive revenue, then imagine how profitable it would be to have one event, the 500?