Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Nationwide Series move to Brickyard a bad deal

Another short track bites the dust as the Nationwide Series will move its race to the Brickyard in 2012.

The Nationwide Series had run at the short track, originally known as Indianapolis Raceway Park, across town in Indianapolis since the series was created in 1982. Now, it might not return.

The Nationwide Series will run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 28, 2012, the day before the Brickyard 400.

What were NASCAR and everybody else involved thinking? Surely this deal was driven by the prospects of making more money. The purse will likely be larger for a race at the big track and the seating capacity is substantially larger, but this is a bad deal in every way other than money.

Since the Sprint Cup Series first came to Indianapolis in 1994, the Brickyard 400 has been one of those special races on the motorsports schedule. Any race at Indy is a big deal, but that’s also because only the best get to race there.

Having only the Sprint Cup cars compete once a year on the 2.5-mile speedway kept the Brickyard 400 as an exclusive event. Sure, it will be a special moment for whoever wins in the Nationwide Series at the track, but it waters down the weekend, especially since most of the regular contenders in the Nationwide Series are Cup drivers anyway.

Another negative is the fact that the Nationwide Series is kicking a great short track to the curb. That move will only perpetuate the bland reputation the series has as a knock-off version of the Sprint Cup Series. Many of the drivers are the same in both series, the cars look very similar and most of the tracks are the same.

The Nationwide Series had a cool deal at the short track. Indianapolis Raceway Park was one of the only remaining short tracks that still had a bit of the country fair feel to it. Plus, the racing was usually close and exciting. It was a unique place. The Nationwide race at the Brickyard will be little more than just another tandem race weekend, especially when the novelty wears off.

In some ways, this is just another case of NASCAR’s eternal longing to reach big markets. NASCAR got tracks in Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Kansas City, and for years it wanted to put tracks up by Seattle and New York.

Thankfully we didn’t get another bland 1.5-mile track from those deals. At least this week’s race in Kentucky is a little closer to traditional NASCAR markets, even if they might not be as big. Saturday night’s race at Kentucky Motor Speedway is already sold out.

Now that the decision has been made to move the Nationwide race, it will be tough to bring the series back to the short track. No matter how boring the race is on the big track, there will always be a Nationwide race the day before the Sprint Cup race from here on out.

Even if the Nationwide Series would return, it would be on a different weekend and would lose the excitement of having racing throughout the weekend in the same city, but at completely different racetracks. That’s also part of what made the Indianapolis weekend special. Only a big-time racing city would have two races on the same weekend at different tracks.

So, savor the upcoming Indianapolis race weekend July 30-31, because it will likely be the last time it stands out as a weekend that is different than any other weekend.

The Indy race weekend will still important simply because it’s Indy, but it won’t be the same.


  1. The Cup race at Indy is one of the most boring, non-competitive events on the schedule, EVERY year. If anything, they should be moving the Indy Cup race to IRP!

    The only way to make the NW race at Indy interesting would be to hold it on the road course. They would never do that because it would be so much more entertaining than the Brickyard 400!

  2. Harvick said today in his presser at Kentucky that sponsors dont want to go to IRP, they think Indy will give them more exposure. Boy will they find out they are wrong! I agree with Gene - Indy is one of the worst races on the Cup schedule.

    I think NW should run completely different tracks than Cup save a few races out of the year - that would keep the Cup guys outta there and showcase some other great tracks on the circuit and could be paired with lower level NASCAR leagues to give them some attention.

  3. Tez here...stupid Internet Explorer *sigh*
    they may be losing another race....current tip is they won't be back at Montreal after this year due to funding issues.

    Now, I know that's the same reason as the F1 which got their race back after a year off but would they fight so hard for a non-international form of motorsport?

  4. They could copy Rafaela in Argentina and add two or three chicanes to the Speedway. The braking zones after long straights would create chaos.

  5. NASCAR is wondering why their ratings are going down. Moving the Nationwide race is an answer in their face. Moving that race (one of the more entertaining of the year) is absolutely the DUMBEST decisions they ever made. We have a group of 14 guys and their wives/girlfriends who spend a fortune at that race every yeaI absolutely guarantee you we and thousands of others like us will NOT attend one at IMS. What's next NASCAR? Say, why don't you make them add those fruity spoilers? Is their anyone left who understands what the PEOPLE want?

  6. Gene - If the Brickyard wasn't such hallowed ground, NASCAR would've never gone there in the first place. I think the size of the crowds at the past several races have shown fans are no longer there just because the place is special.

    klvalus - Totally agree. It would be cool if NASCAR brought back some of the tracks the Trucks series ran when it first started.

    Tez - Good to hear from you! I hope they keep Montreal on the schedule. They have had some fun races there. Don't think Cup should visit, but the Nationwide event there is great.

    NaBUru38 - They could. It would look like Daytona during the Rolex 24 hours of Daytona. I'm not sure NASCAR fans would warm up to making Indy a road course for the Brickyard 400.

    Anonymous - Unfortunately, money and what NACSAR fans want usually don't sit on the same side of an issue. The only reason Kentucky got on the schedule is because NASCAR couldn't build a track in a bigger market.

  7. IRP sold out every year cause it was exciting short track racing IMS is a snooze fest. Big mistake fans want short tracks its better racing than 1.5 mile tracks. Wonder if NASCAR realizes fans have been watching more on TV because of the NFL lockout. I hope there's a football season cause most of these races are snooze fests and just for your info I've been a NASCAR fan since 1992, the races just aren't that fun compared to back in the day.