Marathoners are not hard to come by. They put weeks of training into a 4+ hour non-stop effort. They sign up because they simply love to run, and the discomfort from the high physical demands is a small price to pay for the sense of satisfaction from the accomplishment achieved. But how would you expect a marathoner to react if you asked him to run two marathons in consecutive days? This is roughly how I imagine IndyCar drivers feel in response to doubleheaders.
When drivers are directly asked of their personal opinions, the overwhelming response seems to be that if the fans are enjoying the doubleheaders, then it must be worth it. However, if a driver truly enjoyed doubleheaders, he would explicitly say so, correct? To me, the popular response seems to be the politically correct way to say, “No, I really don’t like it, but I’m not allowed to say so.” Drivers are used to the normal preparation to avoid dehydration, but in adding another hardcore event the next day, this routine becomes a challenge. When staying hydrated becomes a complicated art form, as in Houston, I fear that we are dancing on a fine line between a challenge and a health risk.
On the other hand, the positive outcomes of doubleheader weekends should not be forgotten. The most obvious advantage of the doubleheader is the “two for the price of one” feel. IndyCar fans love a good action packed race weekend, so why not double the amount of racing? As a fan, I thoroughly enjoy waking up the day after a good race to go watch another. Fans at the track are also reaping the economic benefits—While package deals vary event to event, a double-header is obviously more cost-effective than planning two separate trips to two unique events.
Just as fans are graced with a brand new race less than 24 hours following the previous checkered flag, drivers are given a shot at immediate redemption. An ill-handling car can create a long day and a bad result for a driver, but with some overnight changes, the next day could yield a podium finish.
On the flip side, a crash in race 1 will wreak havoc on the team in an attempt to rebuild the car in less than 24 hours; like the drivers, the crew is already stressed to the max. And, since IndyCar has chosen to count each race in a doubleheader as its own event, the cost has been 18 races at only 15 tracks. As a result, the season becomes more condensed, which produces it’s own mixed bag of opinions.
There are undeniable benefits to holding doubleheader race weekends, but at high costs. Are we simply asking too much from the drivers? One race alone is a jaw-dropping display of elite physical fitness, but is two over the top? Since the result of doubleheaders seems to be a condensed schedule, is the doubly entertaining weekend worth its price of a shortened, less diverse season?
Please share your opinions!