Izod IndyCar Series Losing Momentum

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIIJuly 18, 2011

TORONTO - JULY 10:  Will Power of Australia driver of the #12 Team Penske Dallara Honda leads the field at the start of the IZOD IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto on July 10, 2011 in the streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

The Izod IndyCar Series returns to action this weekend as they hit the circuit at the airport in Edmonton.  What doesn’t make any sense is the week off they just took.  Why is there a week off in between both Canada races on the schedule?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to have both races in back to back weekends? 

Think about how much money it would save on travel.  Teams could bring cars for both races and go from Toronto to Edmonton instead of Toronto to Indianapolis then back up to Edmonton a week later. 

What they also lose is the attention of fans.  The last race in Toronto was huge for the Izod IndyCar Series.  The action on the track wasn’t the best, but the bumping and banging, and the instant rivalries that were created were great for the series.  I think almost every driver had beef with someone else at some point during the race, whether it was a teammate or rival.  I know here in the Indianapolis market, Toronto and the rivalries were the top story on the sports news for not only Sunday but the next couple of days as well. Talk radio was all over the rivalries and made for some good discussions.

The most widely discussed rivalry was the one between Will Power and Dario Franchitti.  Their rivalry is heating up and was the main talking point on just about every radio show in the days following the race.  Even teammates Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal had issues with each other.  Dixon said he didn’t claim Rahal as a teammate and Rahal had blocked him on restarts, and Rahal took offense to that.  Rahal has made comments recently about the lack of effort and resources he and rookie Charlie Kimball get compared to Ganassi teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti.  There’s definitely a rivalry between teammates going on there.  Rahal also took a jab at Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay for Ryan spinning Rahal out near the end of the race, which forced Rahal to go from a possible podium finish to ending up 13th.

Other drivers taking jabs at each other were Oriol Servia and Marco Andretti, Will Power and Alex Tagliani, and Tony Kanaan and Ryan Briscoe.

With all of these rivalries and the amount of attention the Izod Indy Car Series had they should have been racing this past weekend.  Edmonton’s long straightaways and tight corners would have been exciting with all the hatred between drivers that followed Toronto.  Now, they had a week off to cool emotions, and outside of the die-hard IndyCar fans, people probably forgot about Toronto’s rumble in the paddock.

There were some major sports stories in between the two races that most likely made people forget about IndyCar as well.  The USA Women’s Soccer Team stole a ton of the headlines with their great run they had in the World Cup Tournament.  There also was the MLB All-Star game last week.  Other major sports headlines were the British Open in Golf and the potential end of the NFL Lockout.

What’s even worse is after Edmonton, the Izod IndyCar Series takes another week off because of the Brickyard weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hopefully next year’s Izod IndyCar Series will have this problem fixed.  There’s no excuse for there to be this many open weeks in the schedule.  The Series lost momentum when there was a week off between the Indianapolis 500 and Texas.  They lost a bunch of momentum after Toronto and I have a feeling will again after Edmonton.  It’s too hard to gain new fans when there are weeks off in between races, especially when they have had tons of momentum preceding the weeks off.