The current 2012 IZOD IndyCar schedule includes 15 races and was scheduled for 16, but a race in Qingdao, China was cancelled after the promoters apparently pulled out. In comments made in early August before the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard indicated he wanted the schedule expanded to 19 races.
I agree with his thinking and want to see more races, as it gives fans like me more exposure to the drivers and more of an opportunity to connect with them. I believe the only way the sport can grow and build an audience, is to really have fans connect with the stories and drama created by each race. Bernard expressed the same thoughts, and phrased it almost like he was a Hollywood scriptwriter, creating the most thrilling possible action to really deliver excitement to the fans: "We need to create more compelling story lines. The more races we have the more exposure the drivers get and the better opportunity we have to create those story lines."
After the cancellation in China this year, I'm sure IndyCar is understandably hesitant about making new deals. Bernard did discuss the possibility of a German race and just as Formula 1 is bringing more races to the U.S., I think IndyCar should push for more races in Europe. With careful planning, I think the two similar sports can compliment each other instead of competing with each other for the same audience. Also, as IndyCar has a Japanese driver, Takumo Sato, (a former Formula 1 driver at that) I think IndyCar should do a race in Japan.
I had the opportunity to interview Randy Bernard at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and asked him how important expanding internationally was to IndyCar. He said: "We're a North American, actually American governing body of open-wheel racing. I think we need to put our priority here in the U.S., most importantly. But, in saying that, we'd like to have three or four events internationally. Two in Canada, two outside the country, maybe one more, because that's where our partners want to do business."
A lifetime auto racing fan, Freddy Sherman collects vintage muscle cars and attends races and rally events in the U.S. and around the world. He's a fan of and writes about Formula 1 and IndyCar racing. You can follow him on Twitter -@thefredsherman
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