2017 Schedule Outlook

It's never too early to look ahead to next year! Sure, we should enjoy the moment, but it's so exciting to think about the changes coming next season. It sounds like Jay Frye, Mark Miles, and the other higher-ups in Indycar are cooking up quite the schedule next year. They plan on not only releasing the 2017 schedule sometime next month, but 2018's as well. Here's what we know so far for the 2017 Verizon Indycar Schedule:


CONFIRMED RACES

Belle Isle
The chairman of Belle Isle Grand Prix, Bud Denker, confirmed that Indycar will return in 2017 and will once again host two races on June 3rd and June 4th, with the race weekend starting on Friday the 2nd. It once again takes the spot as the race following the Indianapolis 500.


Grand Prix of Indiaiapolis
A rapidly forming tradition in Indycar is to kick off the Month of May with a road course race at Indianapolis. The race looks to be a go, as ticket renewals are available on IMS's official website. Angie's List has been the primary sponsor of the race and looks like they will be back for another year.


Indianapolis 500
Indycar's crown jewel will once again take place on Memorial Day Weekend in May. The 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on May 28th.


Iowa Speedway
Iowa Speedway will return to the Indycar schedule for an 11th straight year. The deal was confirmed right before this year's Iowa Corn 300 and it includes a race in 2018 as well. The race will be on July 9th.


Long Beach
Indycar's most historic street race will return to the schedule for the 2017 season. The famous track nestled in the streets of Long Beach will host the race on April 9th.


Road America
After a triumphant return in 2016, Road America will be back on the schedule for June 25th. Both track officials and Indycar were impressed with the positive reaction from fans on the return of the race.


St. Petersburg
Indycar and St. Petersburg, which has prospered with each other since 2005, will race through the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida until 2020 under their new agreement. In 2017, the race will take place on March 12th.



Potential Races

Auto Club Speedway
Many Indycar fans were despondent when the track that hosted one of the most thrilling races of all-time was left off the 2016 Indycar Calendar. The lack of a consistent date on the schedule, lack of attendance, and three hour time difference from the eastern time zone which means the night races has to start late because of the blaring sunset has all impacted the race in Fontana. However, Fontana was on the shortlist of races to replace Boston. The President of the track aid after they were left off for 2016 that they wouldn't rule out Indycar in the future, so long as they two sides could agree on some parameters.


Barber Motorsports Park
Since 2010, Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama has been a great host of the Indycar Series. There is no confirmation of the race for 2017 yet, but there is no reason to think the race won't be back next year sometime in late March or early April. The title sponsor in recent years has been Honda.

Barber (Photo: Indycar Media)

Exhibition Place
Indycar has been racing around Toronto for decades. However, speculation persists that the outdated venue along with a sketchy realignment of the last section of the track and the pits means the track may have to undergo some upgrades for it to be viable in the future. There is no concrete information on the race for 2017 either for or against, but let's hope it returns. It is one of the more dramatic (in a good way) races of the season.


Gateway Motorsports Park
Just outside of St. Louis, Gateway Motorsports Park has hosted both CART and IRL races. When the Boston Grand Prix fell through, Indycar officials looked for established tracks as a replacement. When it came down to choosing, it fell between Watkins Glen and Gateway. Watkins Glen got the nod, but it bodes well knowing that Gateway was the last one out for 2017. New upgrades is also big selling point to bring Indycar back.


Homestead-Miami Speedway
Homestead-Miami, aka Homestead, was another one of these tracks that was on the shortlist of tracks to replace Boston. While it was one of the first races to be crossed off of the shortlist, any consideration means the two sides opened a dialogue about a race. The last Indycar race held there was in 2010, although the track does host pre-season testing for the Indy Lights season for the last two years.


International Venues
After recent failures in China and Brazil, Mark Miles said that despite the mistrust gained in international races, he has not ruled out hope of securing at least one international race. Brazil, China, and Japan remain the top contenders for an international race.


Kentucky Speedway
Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky hasn't hosted a race since 2011. It hosted some thrilling races in the IR07 era, including a pair of photo finishes. New track improvements, including a new track surface, has the GM of Kentucky Speedway hopeful that Indycar has a future in Kentucky. It may not be next year, as the GM insists they have to work out a date and finances in order for the race to move forward.

Indycars racing at Kentucky in 2011 (Photo: Indycar Media)

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
There is no reason to doubt that Indycar won't return to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Most of the races set to return in 2017 have already taken place, and I feel not long after the race on July 31st, a date will be confirmed for 2017.


Phoenix International Raceway
Indycar returned to Phoenix for the first time since 2005 in 2016. Although the race was lackluster at best, a second-time around means the aero package will hopefully be better. After a great fan turnout in 2016, the race in Phoenix will very likely be back in 2017 around the time period of April 29th. It will drop down from its early April spot this year because of Easter and NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four in Phoenix in early April. Still, expect this oval back next year.


Pocono Raceway
Ever since its inception. Pocono Raceway has had an ax over their head for the following season. Last season, the race was set to be discontinued for 2016, but nevertheless, the race was on the 2016 calendar. This year, there hasn't been too much talk for or against the race, so it will be one of those wait and see situations.


Portland International Raceway
There is serious momentum for Indycar to return to one of its longtime tracks in Portland, Oregon. The thrilling road course hosted some doozies back in the day. Indycar just recently inspected the track, which is a good first sign towards a return to the track.

Portland lasted hosted an Indycar race in 2007 (Photo: Champ Car Media)

Sonoma Raceway
A long-time fixture on the Indycar calendar, the Sonoma Raceway outside of the San Francisco Bay Area has gotten the support of local fans and big corporate sponsors, meaning that the race will continue so long as the people behind the race are happy.


Streets of Calgary
James Hinchcliffe and boss Ric Peterson have really been pushing for a street race in Calgary, Alberta. The promotors, Green-Savoree, as well as Hinch and Peterson have been gearing towards a September date in the 2017 schedule. Given that the race track will be in the same area as the Calgary Stampede, people will be accustomed to the delays and closuers in the surrounding area. The Stampede attracts close-to or more than 100,000 people a day for a 10 day festival. Watch out for this race to make the schedule next season, as Edmonton was the last Western Canadian city to host a race in 2012.

The Stampede Grounds in Calgary (Photo: Visit Calgary)

Streets of Omaha
Local businessman Chris Nielsen seems to have succeeded where Boston failed in getting support from many groups in order to get the race off the ground. Nielsen has a scrutinized budget, the support of businesses, and the support of many people to host an Indycar race in the streets of Omaha, Nebraska. It may not appear on the calendar in 2017, but keep any eye on this race for the future.


Streets of Providence
The street race that was supposed to happen in 2015... And then 2016.... And then a potential replacement for Boston.... Yeah, it hasn't happened. Despite going through hurdles and hoops, the race has yet to happen. It's tough to see if it will happen for 2017.


Surfers Paradise
The Gold Coast, Australian Government, and Indycar are all making a concerted effort to get Indycar back to Surfers Paradise in 2017. Although there are still hoops to jump through, the chief among which is a date to race on, both sides seem adamant that they wish to see a race return to Australia.


Texas Motor Speedway
Every year, like Pocono, I wonder if this will be the last year we race at Texas. This year's race turned into a fiasco thanks to the weather. The weather exposed the outdated race surface and infrastructure of the track. But Eddie Gossage is one hell of a promoter and a good ally to Indycar, so I expect to see the race back in 2017. There has been no official date set.


Watkins Glen International 
After the castrophe of the Boston Grand Prix, Watkins Glen was tabbed as the replacement race for 2016 in the prized Labor Day slot. Not only was this a good move for Indycar for 2016, but for its future as well. Indycar picked Watkins Glen because of their interest in hosting Indycar for the long-term future (till at least 2018), but no official date has been set yet for 2017.

Watkins Glen (Photo: Autosport)


CONFRIMED SCHDULE OUTLOOK
March 12 - St. Petersburg
April 9 - Long Beach
May 3 - Grand Prix of Indianapolis
May 28 - Indianapolis 500
June 3 - Belle Isle
June 4 - Belle Isle
June 25 - Road America
July 9 - Iowa Speedway



EDITORIAL SCHEDULE (bold are confirmed, rest are my guesses)
1) February 19 - Surfers Paradise
2) March 12 - St. Petersburg
3) March 19 - Barber
4) March 26 - Gateway
5) April 9 - Long Beach
6) April 29 - Phoenix
7) May 13 - Grand Prix of Indianapolis
8) May 28 - Indianapolis 500
9) June 3 - Belle Isle
10) June 4 - Belle Isle
11) June 11 - Texas
12) June 25 - Road America
13) July 9 - Iowa
14) July 16 - Toronto
15) July 30 - Mid-Ohio
16) August 13 - Portland
17) August 20 - Pocono
18) September 3 - Watkins Glen
19) September 10 - Calgary
20) September 24 - Sonoma



To defend myself, these include many of the current races and the legitimate prospects for 2017. It satisfies Mark Miles' wants for the 20 races starting in February and ending in September. This wasn't something I just pulled out my ass in a Fantasy Land scenario that we see from other sources; this is a legitimate *optimistic* outlook on next year's schedule. But hey, I'm not the expert! 20 races would be a dream.

Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey