At least three new venues, a Texas race dropped and an old standby in Canada scrambling to stay alive appear to be the developing storylines for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar series schedule. RACER’s Marshall Pruett did a speculative story on the schedule earlier this month and a few things have changed since then.
Mark Miles hopes to announce the official slate next weekend at Fontana but RACER has learned a couple of developments that could impact the number of races and where IndyCar could be going next year. If Dubai and Brasilia can be signed, sealed and delivered to open the season in late February and early March, it looks like IndyCar could have anywhere from 18 to 19 races.
A road course outside New Orleans at NOLA Motorsports Park seems to have the green light and will be the only new venue in the United States but maybe not North America. The big question mark is Toronto. Because of the Pan-Am Games, a staple of IndyCar since 1986 every July had been offered a June 8 date by the city. But it was the same date that Texas Speedway promoter Eddie Gossage wanted and it appears he’s going to get it. Toronto promoters Kim Green and Kevin Savoree are thought to be meeting with city officials about another possibility later in June but IndyCar is also looking at a Canadian option, should nothing be worked out at Toronto.
Tony Cotman, who serves as IndyCar’s track consultant as well as chief steward for Indy Lights, last week visited Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – better known as Mosport – to check out the venerable road course located about an hour’s drive east of Toronto. Indy cars under USAC sanction ran Mosport in 1968 but haven’t gone back because today’s cars are considered too fast for the 2.5-mile circuit. The track underwent a major facelift a few years ago but would likely take more upgrading to accommodate an IndyCar race.
It’s believed Circuit Mont-Tremblant (previously known as St. Jovite), a scenic road course 90mins northwest of Montreal that USAC ran in 1968 and Champ Car went back to in 2007 , is also on the radar as a possible backup for Toronto.
While the Canadian site remains in question, there will only be one race in Texas next year because promoter Mike Lanigan will not be returning to Houston’s Reliant Park . The June doubleheader featured great racing and a very visible title sponsor in Shell but poor attendance in the heat of the summer. Lanigan is thought to be exploring other Texas options for 2016. One is Circuit of Americas in Austin, current home of the United States Formula 1 Grand Prix, and the other possibility is an airport layout at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base.
Whether or not the Triple Crown remains intact may be contingent on Auto Club Speedway. It’s believed Pocono Raceway was granted its wish to get off the July 4th weekend so it will continue for the third straight year, but Fontana does not want to host the season finale on Labor Day weekend – like it will next weekend. And Miles is evidently set on stopping the 2015 schedule by Labor Day so finding Fontana a spot could be tricky.
It would seem New Orleans has the climate and atmosphere to make a Labor Day date work for the last race of 2015 but a March date is also being discussed. Sonoma Raceway hosting the finale could be another possibility.
Two years hence, however, Boston has jumped into the picture as a potential street race to close the 2016 season on Labor Day, after a potential race at Providence, R.I. apparently fell through.
Detroit will be a doubleheader again and, if Toronto is rescued, it will also feature two races so that would give IndyCar 17 events and 19 races.
RACER’S BEST GUESS AT 2015
Dubai (street circuit)
Brasilia (road course)
St. Petersburg (street circuit)
Long Beach (street)
Birmingham (road course)
Indianapolis (road course)
Indianapolis 500 (oval)
Detroit (street, doubleheader)
Toronto (street) or Mosport (road course)
Mid-Ohio (road course)
Sonoma (road course)
New Orleans (road course)