Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Grand Prix of Indianapolis: First Reaction

Let's break down some of yesterday's announcement and news conference on the Grand Prix of Indianapolis:

-I think Doug Boles and Mark Miles are concerned with doing this event the "right way", and making sure it lives up to what we know a race Indy should be--something special. Some would argue we've lost some of that, between NASCAR tooling around at 180mph and the F1 tire madness and such, but when it comes to IndyCar, this place still means more. From that presser, Boles and Co. will be doing everything they can to make this an event that doesn't detract from the Month of May, but enhances it, and works as a lead-in to the 500 and the rest of the schedule.

-We all know the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was originally intended to have a road course as well as the oval. If the event is pulled off right and made into a "big deal", than it can be a fine complement to the 500--two races, two disciplines, one legendary race course. I certainly hope that's how it works out, but the event has to be embraced and set apart not just by the series, but by the fans.

-Free Thursday to open the Month of May while keeping a traditional "Opening Day" for the 500? Huge thumbs up on that one. Get the folks out there to actually see what road racing is like. It sounds crazy, but a lot of oval fans have never seen a twisty in person.  The Family Pack of 4 tickets for $50 is nice, too.

-I'm excited to see how Turn 1 plays out, but it sounds like the revamped Turn 7 might be where the action's at. I really need to get out there and look at the construction and development this month. 

-The Bronze Badge cost for May will likely be $125, but will include the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. It's an increase, but still a good deal. I wish they'd kept it lower, but it's still an awful lot of bang for the buck(s).

-Additionally with the Bronze Badge, I like Doug Boles' mention of Bronze Badge holders getting into the pits for at least an hour on Grand Prix Race Day. 
Oh, it's happening.
(Courtesy IndyCar Media. Image by Chris Owens)

-The ticket pricing doesn't seem outlandish, and $25 general admission isn't bad. I'm curious though, how they line up the ladder series events, and how they will be staggered. If they do it right, Thursday-Saturday could be absolute non-stop on-track open wheel action.

-I like the idea of a "Hulman Cup" if a driver wins both the Grand Prix and the 500. Hopefully, they come up with something that can become iconic with time. 

-With Roger Penske obviously a key booster of this decision, I'd like to think we'll see a Penske-oriented sponsor like Shell behind the race. The announcement of a title or presenting sponsor, when it happens, will be big.

-Doug Boles said he's hoping for 40k-50k for the Grand Prix. I certainly hope he gets it. I don't know if that's too ambitious a goal or not. I don't think it is, especially for the first year of something new at the Speedway. I am also going to be extremely interested in how this is marketed. I hope it's done in a way that really pushes it to a lot of the race fans in the region, and helps feed into not just the Indy 500, but the entire rest of the series. IndyCar's twisty racing is top shelf; I hope they're able to relate that to the fan, and that people give it an honest chance. 

-No matter what else happens, we know it will be more entertaining than the Brickyard 400. Maybe NASCAR will take a hint and start running on the road course, too.

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