Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mapping Out Potential Venues

The 2015 Indycar schedule was released just a short time ago. While it was great to finally know where we would race for the upcoming season, my mind immediately turned to what things would look like for 2015. If you all remember, I did something similar to this during the 2013 season, except I only analyzed Indycar tracks. I have now taken in the bigger picture, seeing where Indycar should go next season given the markets out there. Here is what I came up with:

(Key: Green - Hosts both Indycar and NASCAR, Red - Hosts Indycar, Blue - Hosts NASCAR, Brown - Hosts F1)

Tracks hosting Indycar in 2015:
1) Sonoma Raceway
2) Streets of Long Beach
3) Auto Club Speedway
7) Texas Motor Speedway
9) Iowa Speedway
10) NOLA Motorsports Park
11) The Milwaukee Mile
13) Barber Motorsports Park
15) Indianapolis Motor Speedway
17) Belle Isle
19) Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
22) Exhibition Place
25) Pocono Raceway
32) Streets of St. Ptersburg

Track hosting Formula 1 in 2015:
6) Circuit of the Americas
34) Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Tracks hosting NASCAR in 2015:
1) Sonoma Raceway
3) Auto Club Speedway
4) Las Vegas Motor Speedway
5) Phoenix International Raceway
7) Texas Motor Speedway
8) Kansas Speedway
12) Chicagoland Speedway
14) Talladega Superspeedway
15) Indianapolis Motor Speedway
16) Michigan International Speedway
18) Kentucky Speedway
20) Bristol Motor Speedway
21) Atlanta Motor Speedway
23) New Hampshire Motor Speedway
24) Watkins Glen International
25) Pocono Speedway
26) Dover International Speedway
27) Richmond International Raceway
28) Martinsville Speedway
29) Charlotte Motor Speedway
30) Darlington Raceway
31) Daytona International Speedway
33) Homestead-Miami Speedway

Using the above map, I have mapped the approximate reach for each track with the circles (indicated by their corresponding color). I judge this based off the magnitude of the race (Indianapolis, Charlotte, Daytona, etc. will have bigger reach than Fontana, Kansas, Kentucky, etc.), neighboring races which will draw different crowds and take away from other tracks, and the general population of the area. This is anything beyond official, but this is what I perceive that the track gets the majority of their fans from:

So, what does all this mumbo jumbo mean? It means that Indycar, if they use their heads and put their efforts together, can tap markets that are currently just sitting idle. Not only are their untapped markets, but there are vacant tracks or city streets that could host Indycar. Here is an extended list of venues Indycar could target:

(Key: Green - Hosts both Indycar and NASCAR, Red - Hosts Indycar, Blue - Hosts NASCAR, Brown - Hosts F1, Yellow - potential Indycar races)

Potential Indycar Races for 2016:
1) Edmonton City Centre Airport
2) Portland International Raceway
3) Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
4) Streets of Salt Lake City
5) Phoenix International Raceway
6) Streets of Denver
7) Pikes Peak International Raceway
8) Brainerd International Raceway
9) Streets of Omaha
10) Circuit of the Americas
11) Reliant Park
12) Road America
13) Gateway Motorsports Park
14) Kentucky Speedway
15) Nashville Superspeedway
16) Canadian Motor Speedway
17) New Hampshire Motor Speedway
18) Streets of Boston
19) Streets of Providence (dot too small to fit in Rhode Island, so it's listed in Connecticut)
20) Port Imperial Street Circuit
21) Streets of Baltimore
22) Homestead-Miami Speedway
23) Streets of Quebec City

With the 23 tracks added to the tracks in the first map, here's what the altered reach projections would look like:

So, let's try to make sense of all of this. First off, there ain't no one way in a million years that Indycar is adding 23 races; this is just my list of tracks that Indycar should go after given the circumstances of the other races in North America. I could see two to four tracks added to the 2016 season.

The blue chip tracks with little to no market competition from the list that would serve Indycar great with relatively untapped markets are Portland, one of the races in Colorado (either Streets of Denver or Pikes Peak), Edmonton, Salt Lake City, Baltimore, and one of the New England races; Port Imperial, which is slated to host F1 in 2016, would be an excellent venue. Of those New England races, however, both Providence and Boston have been in serious talks with Indycar to host races.

Other races that would be great, yet are located in challenged markets include Road America (conflicts with Milwaukee), Laguna Seca (conflicts with Sonoma), Canadian Motor Speedway (conflicts with Toronto), Homestead (conflicts with St. Petersburg), and Quebec City (conflicts with Montreal).

One track that keeps bringing up a heated debate is Circuit of the Americas. Eddie Gossage, CEO of Texas Motor Speedway, keeps saying that if Indycar goes to COTA, then he won't let Indycar race at TMS anymore. Why? COTA is 200 miles away and would draw most of its crowds from Austin, not Dallas-Ft. Worth. Gossage also had no issue hosting NASCAR on the same exact weekend as F1 was in COTA last weekend. If he thinks that COTA would ruin his Indycar race, then he should just go ahead and kill the race, because I'd rather see Indycar at COTA then Texas anyways.

There are some races that don't make too much sense. First off is Cleveland. Cleveland, a city that has been hit hard by the economy, is surrounded by a multitude of great races. If this race came back, it would be very tough to draw a crowd. Another track that would be tough is a street race in Ft. Lauderdale. Florida already has three races, so a race there would have to be effectively promoted in order to succeed. Finally, I only see one race in Michigan working. Between Belle Isle and Michigan, many people would pick Michigan. From a racing standpoint, I'd pick Michigan. From an economic standpoint, I would pick Belle Isle.

So, out of the 23 tracks I listed as potential races to add, here's my top seven:
7) Gateway Motorsports Park
6) Port Imperial Street Circuit
5) Canadian Motor Speedway
4) Circuit of the Americas
3) Streets of Baltimore
2) Laguna Seca
1) Road America

Using all that I gathered here, what races would you pick?! Any races not on my map that you would add?! Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey


  1. While I would personally love Gateway to be on the schedule since it is within walking distance of my house It would be a tough sell in this market. Anytime you would schedule it, it would be up against Cardinal Baseball which routinely draws 30,000 on a Sunday against say the Padres. If you schedule it late it would be during the pennant race, you can't really schedule it at the front either since March and April here can be dicey. Could be great weather or could still be cold with a sudden snow storm. That puts it right in the glut of the middle part of the schedule which there is little room. July here can be in the 100's too.

    It would be a tough sell in this market since there is little interest in INDYCAR. I have actually had this conversation more than once at work. "What are you doing for Memorial Day?" "I am watching the race." There is a race?" or "oh yeah NASCAR." If I mention the word INDYCAR here I often get blank stares. This market also is lacking title sponsor candidates since AB and Purina left or aren't solely based her anymore. Love to see it but all this must be overcome first.

  2. I've been wanting, hoping and wishing to see Gateway on the IndyCar schedule for several years. It started as a purely selfish wish, because I too, live in St. Louis. However, I disagree that it would be a tough sell. Now is the perfect time. I would not have said that a year ago, because a lot of people in this area didn't know Gateway had re-opened. In the past 2 years, though, Gateway has really stepped up their PR and advertising, appearing frequently on local tv stations. They have established a good social media presence and they’re diligent about engaging fans on Twitter and FB. We fans spend a lot of time talking about promotion and advertising in the IndyCar Series. Based on what I’ve seen, I really think Gateway would promote the heck out of an IndyCar race. Also, Gateway has been public about saying they want IndyCar back. Shouldn’t IndyCar should go somewhere that wants them? I don’t know if some of these other tracks want to host IndyCar.

    This is a baseball town. No doubt about it. In October, people lose their minds. But during the regular season, I wish those people would drive 10 minutes east and see what’s going on outside of Busch Stadium at the track. If they don’t like it, well, there’s 161 other baseball games they can go watch.

    As far as the weather, it's unpredictable, yes. It snowed this past March and I had my air conditioner on last week. July could be perfectly fine. Or not!

    I agree that this area has little interest in IndyCar, but I don’t think they dislike it, they just don't know about it. I had a conversation with an old friend I hadn't seen in a while, and she said she was surprised to learn I was such a NASCAR fan. I told her I'm not, and she seemed confused. She said "Well, you posted a lot of stuff about the Indy500.”

    Which brings me to my final thought, does Gateway need to fill the stands with IndyCar fans? Or do they simply need to fill the stands? I don’t know the answer.

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  4. I'd love to see a Las Vegas street race! It's not really a needed market - but it would be fun and glamorous and would draw a huge crowd (if only for the night life)!