The Offseason Is Now Upon Us

Now that the Verizon IndyCar Series season has come to a close, it is suddenly dawning on me that we are now officially in the dreaded offseason. But don’t fret! Our offseasons are getting shorter each year.

This year, the offseason will last twenty-five weeks – fifteen weeks left in 2016 and ten into the winter of 2017. That’s one week less than half of a year. While that seems like a lot, it’s much better than it was. Do you remember the time not so long ago that the season lasted only five months, and the offseason was seven?

Last year’s offseason lasted twenty-eight weeks. The 2014-15 offseason was a whopping thirty weeks. The powers-that-be at IndyCar have heard the groans from the fans and done their best to whittle five weeks off of the offseason in two years. Now that’s nothing like the CART offseason of 2001-02, when the 2001 CART season ended on November 4th and the next season started on March 10th, but it’s a start.

Had the Hawaiian Super Prix (remember that mega-flop?) taken place as originally scheduled on November 13th of 1999, the 1999-2000 offseason would have been the shortest in this era.

But like many things lately with IndyCar, things are trending the right way. Like this year, next year’s schedule begins in mid-March. Every race on this year’s slate returns for next season, with the addition of Gateway being the seventeenth race. Best of all, all races return to their 2016 date – with the exception of Phoenix, which was moved due to the Final Four being held there in early April. With Gateway, there are no huge gaps at the end of the schedule like we’ve seen in recent years, which kills momentum towards the championship.

But for die-hard race fans like the ones that come to this site, twenty-five weeks is still a long time. What is one to do, to get that offseason racing fix? I’m lucky because I’m a staunch football fan, so between the Tennessee Titans and Vols – I’ve got plenty to occupy my mind through January with a whole new level of potential frustration. But if you are not a stick & ball sport fan, as many racing fans are not, the offseason can be agonizingly dull.

Ridicule me if you like, but for the past two Monday nights – I watched IndyCar’s own James Hinchcliffe compete on Dancing with the Stars on ABC. Does it make for a good competitive substitute for watching IndyCar racing at Texas Motor Speedway? No. It doesn’t come close. I watch it more out of obligation so I can vote for Hinch and hope that IndyCar can get more exposure for another week.

If that doesn’t float your boat, I guess there is always NASCAR and their Chase for the Championship, which will run until just before Thanksgiving. Of course their offseason is only a matter of weeks. Right after Christmas, they are back at it with their Media Days and Daytona testing for the Daytona 500 in mid-February. Between testing and Daytona Speedweeks is theRolex24 on the road course at Daytona Internateional Speedway, which usually contains many IndyCar drivers. By then, most people have had enough of the appetizer and are ready for the IndyCar opener in mid-March at St. Petersburg.

But if you need to be fed a more regular dose of IndyCar throughout the offseason; I have three suggestions for you. First, buy yourself an early Christmas present with a year-long subscription to Trackside Online. The $22 annual subscription is the best value in motorsports. You’ll have the very latest IndyCar news and opinions delivered promptly to your inbox throughout the offseason. Go here for more details.

Second, tune in to Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee every Tuesday night at or the 1070 The Fan app. Each week, you’ll get an in-depth two-hour conversation on the latest IndyCar topics of the offseason. It is must-listen-to radio each week for IndyCar fans.

Last and definitely the least – Keep coming to three times a week, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for some occasional discussion on pertinent IndyCar topics and sometimes a few pointless rants that may have nothing to do with IndyCar. It’s the offseason, so I’m allowed to go off-topic every now and then. I had said a year ago that I would play it by ear after the 100th Running of the Indianapolis – whether or not I’d keep blogging beyond this season. But I plan on haunting the blogosphere for a little longer.

To be honest, going to more races and more tracks this season just made me hungrier for more. Susan and I are already looking at which new venues to take in next season. So to the chagrin of many and the joy of a small few, I’ll still be around for at least another IndyCar season.

Hopefully, I’ve cheered you up enough by showing you just a few of the offseason IndyCar outlets you can look into for the next twenty-five weeks. The 171 days until the green flag flies at St. Petersburg will be gone before you know it.

George Phillips

14 Responses to “The Offseason Is Now Upon Us”

  1. Brian McKay Says:

    Thanks for blogging in-season and out-of-season.

  2. Hey George, thank you for your blog all season. It was always interesting and definitely helped with our inaugural trip to the 500 from the UK this year. Here’s to 2017!

  3. Hey George- the NFL used to get me through the IndyCar off-season but now that politics has very unfortunately infiltrated it, I’m really struggling with following it anymore. I have been a football fan my whole life. I might try subscribing to trackside, that way I will have all three boxes checked.

  4. billytheskink Says:

    Glad to hear that you plan to keep blogging, George.

    I’ve always liked that racing season runs into football season which runs into basketball season which runs into racing season. There is always something to look forward to.

  5. The MLB Playoffs! Go Cubs!!!

  6. Agree- I don’t usually watch DWTS but am supporting Hinch and IndyCar through voting. Trackside and your blog are also great ways to keep up with IndyCar. Thanks George! Glad you will continue to write.

  7. I am happy that you are going for another season.

  8. Thank you George for keeping your blog audience in good spirits throughout the off-season. It still is a long one, though.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if IndyCar had its final round this weekend, if it has to be September?

    I can imagine a return to Kentucky Speedway at Sparta, Kentucky, would be a nice way to close a season, as that would mean ending the season on an oval, ending the season relatively close to the Indianapolis crowd, and bringing in a larger crowd to Sparta because it would be the season finale.

    I still believe the Fontana 500 has not returned because it upstaged the Indy 500 last year. So the powers that be didn’t really want the Californian track back and did not agree on a date in October.

    Also adding back the famed Milwaukee Mile for some good short track action at some time in June or July would fill out the calendar quite nicely.

    The 2017 calendar looks about as good as it could realistically get. Yet adding Kentucky and Milwaukee, which still has the highest TV ratings for the Indy 500 now that its own race is no more, should be looked at to make the 2018 schedule even better.

    I didn’t follow the sport when Gateway was on the schedule, so this race is going to be a bit of a surprise next year. One thing is certain, though: this track hasn’t had it easy during the “split” years, as it was scheduled by CART on the Saturday before the Indy 500.

    Also, there reportedly are ongoing discussions about bringing back Portland for 2018. Would that be a candidate for a season finale?

    What do you think would be the best place for a season finale? (Not counting Fontana as Mark Miles does not want to run in October – and not counting the GP of Indy as that is now part of the Month Of May, and rightfully so, I must add).

    • Without giving much thought to your question, my immediate reaction is Chicagoland. That’s assuming it is properly promoted, which was not the case in the past. It’s a huge metropolitan area. It’s in the central time zone. It’s a track that could produce great racing without going back to pack racing. And it’s close enough to Indianapolis where the majority of the fan base is. Another thought is Atlanta – either Atlanta Motor Speedway or Road Atlanta. Atlanta is not close to Indianapolis, but the other reasons apply. Just a few quick answers off the cuff without really giving it any deep thought. – GP

      • I agree, George…though living barely 40 minutes from Chicagoland has something to do with that. In 2010, if you were not an Indycar fan, you almost certainly would not have known that Indycar was in town that weekend.

        It was actually pretty funny to see a woman fan–don’t know her name, but I saw her at many races that year, a real diehard, always with a garage pass–accost the Chicagoland president as he walked down pit lane and absolutely rip into him regarding the lack of promotion. He tried to get away from her but she was all over him like a starving dog on a T-bone, LOL. Unfortunately there is a large contingent in Indy–including folks that work for the series–that don’t care much for Chicagoland. There’s a time change involved, so even if you leave the track within an hour of the checkers, it seems like a 5 hour trip. Many also think there are not enough hotels or restaurants close to the track. I’d bet only 1000-2000 Indy area fans made the trip for the last few races there.

        KY Speedway didn’t draw very well in 2011, even though that’s in the same time zone as Indianapolis, but IMHO it “suffers” from exactly the same preceived issues as Chicagoland when it comes to lodging or amenties close to the track.

        • These are interesting thoughts from both of your regarding Chicagoland. Having slowly gotten back to viewing IndyCar after reunification, I remember having watched only one race from Chicagoland. I think that was back in 2010, and it was a pretty good race.

          Chicagoland used to be the season finale before. IndyCar even gave up on the well attended Surfers Paradise round to keep Chicagoland as the season finale. Yet still, the race did not remain the season finale, changed dates and next thing you know, it fell off the schedule.

          I haven’t mentioned Chicagoland in my initial reply because of this. Also, do you think it’s likely that promoters in Detroit and Elkhart Lake maybe have got a contract clause that could prevent such an event?

          Given Chicagoland’s history with having been founded jointly by IMS and its current owner ISC, it surely would be a good fit, as the reintroduction of historic venues has proven to be largely successful lately.

          Either way, it’s going to be interesting what circuit Jay Frye can come up with for a recurring season finale.

    • Did I correctly read this? You claim Fontana upstaged the Indy 500? Did I miss something? Am I now in an alternate universe?? Just honestly confused….

      • Well, it’s good to see you doubt this. A lot of people claimed Fontana was the best race of 2015 – even though it was run to largely empty stands. There is just no way any other race on the IndyCar calendar could beat the Indy 500 at the box office.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: