An IndyCar road race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to kick off next May is seriously being considered and possibly one more double-header will be added to the schedule, but those appear to be the only major changes for 2014, according to information gathered by RACER.com. It looks like there will be 20-21 races for '14 and the season will end by Labor Day and not include any additional venues to the 2013 schedule.
But that doesn't mean IndyCar CEO Mark Miles isn't interested in returning IndyCar to Elkhart Lake, Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen or Phoenix some day. And it doesn't mean IndyCar won't take a serious look at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas or some additional dates outside North America in 2015.
“We've got a pretty full plate for next year and the schedule is almost finalized,” said Miles on Thursday. “I know our fans are very vocal about certain historic tracks coming back and while it's not going to happen next year it doesn't mean that we're not having ongoing conversations.
“There's quite a bit of interest out there and it's my job to make sure we get the best possible dates and partners.”
Miles wouldn't speak in specifics about the schedule but RACER.com has learned the month of May will most likely open with Indy cars running on the road course used by Formula 1 from 2000 to '07. It's believed there will a data-gathering test for an Indy car on the road course next month, possibly as early as Sept. 4th. It's believed the series will use a team that is outside the championship battle to help capture data, and that a limited number of laps will be completed during the process.
Even before the Boston Consulting Group report suggested IMS host a road race for Indy cars, several car owners had been in favor of it as a prelude to the 98th Indianapolis 500 on May 25. It's not known what kind of purse might be offered nor if there is going to be a title sponsor or if there will be a companion event. But Miles did go on the record to refute a report in the Indianapolis Business Journal that the newly formed United SportsCar Racing series would hold a standalone race early next May.
“I have no idea where this rumor about Jim France and sports cars came from but it is false and we are not considering it,” said Miles.
But is it possible USCR will be invited to join IndyCar and try to up the star power for May's break from tradition?
“We're talking with them about all kinds of possibilities but our focus is promoting IndyCar and open-wheel racing in Indianapolis in May,” Miles replied.
Having a pair of IndyCar races at IMS in May will force Brazil's entertaining street race to be moved to another date and there was talk of moving Fontana, which hosts the 2013 finale in October, back into June so the Triple Crown of Indy/Fontana/Pocono would run consecutive months. Meanwhile, Pocono, which welcomed back IndyCar this season following a 24-year absence, is going to be increased to a 500-miler in 2014.
The season again opens at St. Petersburg (LEFT) and promoters Kim Green and Kevin Savoree want it to be a double-header like their race at Toronto, which was a rousing success.
“We met with IndyCar and requested a doubleheader for St. Pete next year and we're waiting to hear back from them,” confirmed Savoree, whose group also promotes Mid-Ohio.
If St. Pete gets the nod for a twin bill, it would join Detroit, Toronto and Houston and, along with the new IMS date, it would give IndyCar 21 races – two more than this season – providing Mike Lanigan wants to keep Houston as a double-header. Nervous about going up against college and pro football in October, Lanigan's Shell-sponsored races will likely get moved to August in 2014.
There had been doubts about Milwaukee continuing unless Michael Andretti could find a title sponsor but it's evidently on the schedule, as is Baltimore, which has been well attended but financially shaky in its first two years. Providence, R.I., had shown big interest a year ago and still wants a race but it isn't likely as long as Baltimore exists.