With the recent announcement that the Izod IndyCar Series will not return to Las Vegas today, I wanted to take a look at the recent events since the tragic death of Dan Wheldon on Lap 12 of the season finale up until now.
Before Wheldon's tragic death, the Izod IndyCar Series was on an upward trend for the first time since the split in 1995. Ratings were up for the first time in a while, we had a great ending to the 100th year of the Indianapolis 500, competition was fierce, a new car was debuting in 2012, and many teams and tracks were set up for next year due to the new car.
Now, the series has announced they won't return to Milwaukee, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Las Vegas next season. There's also talk that Baltimore won't return next season due to them being in debt from this year's Labor Day weekend race.
The series hasn't made an announcement on the 2012 schedule yet, but it's looking like there will only be 14 races on the circuit. If so, that's a shame.
Also, the series lost Newman/Hass racing—a fixture on the open wheel circuit since 1983—due to the loss of finances.
The series may have car counts up a bit next year, but if there's only 14 races, and a majority of them are on road courses, this may be nearing the end of the best racing out there.
We can't have follow-the-leader road/street-course racing. It's no secret they're the lowest-rated events. NASCAR even struggles to gain ratings on road courses. This isn't a road-racing country. Why do you think Formula One has failed at every attempt in the US?
If the series becomes Formula One of the United States with the Indianapolis 500 mixed in, this will be the end of it. Teams can't afford to compete for long when the revenue isn't coming in.
If the loss of ovals and lack of venues doesn't end the series, the new car will. This car is extremely ugly, and they need to go back to a traditional looking car of the late '80s or '90s. This is what fans are looking for.
The futuristic look and trying to lock in the wheels is dumb and won't work. This is open wheel, not two open wheels and two interlocked. Ask the USAC Silver Crown and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series how well it worked when they switched the look of their car.
Ratings dipped every year for the "car of tomorrow" in NASCAR, and the racing was horrid. Drivers and fans hated the look of the car, and they finally switched back.
The Izod IndyCar Series can't afford to do this. They don't have the ratings to lose and still be a functional series.
We're almost midway through December, the schedule isn't even announced yet, and the car is nowhere near ready for the season opener in St. Pete in March.
IndyCar is on a pencil-thin line on these matters. 2012 will decide if this series is here for the long run or close to extinction.