It’s Just Around The Corner

The month of February is normally a boring month for me. After the Super Bowl, there is not a lot going on in the sporting world to hold my interest except for the Daytona 500. I’ll always watch the Daytona 500, mainly because it’s racing and there’s not much else on. Usually I’ll watch it and a handful of NASCAR races throughout the year – and that handful always includes the Brickyard 400 at IMS. This year, I watched the Daytona 500 and not another NASCAR race. That’s not necessarily what was intended, but I just didn’t find any motivation to seek out another one.

I watched a few sports car races. I caught parts of the Rolex24, Sebring and Le Mans and some of Road Atlanta. But it’s safe to say that my motorsports viewing in 2018 was confined almost exclusively to the IndyCar Series. Again, that’s not what I intended – that’s just the way it worked out. So my racing offseason is particularly long since I saw my last race in September. That’s what makes what we learned last week even more special.

We are not even to Christmas yet, and we are already starting to get a taste of the 2019 IndyCar season. Last week, we learned of a second pre-season test scheduled for February. Earlier, we had learned that the official IndyCar Spring Training would take place at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) at Austin, Texas on Feb 12-13.

In case that wasn’t soon enough to satisfy your IndyCar thirst, we learned late last week that there will be another test at Laguna Seca on Friday Feb 8, I am expecting some type of live video to be available for the Spring Training, but I would be surprised if there was any video at the test at Laguna Seca.

It doesn’t matter. There will be enough photos and videos made available to us during and after the test that we will get a feel of what went on throughout the day and how these cars take to the tight track at Laguna Seca.

Those of us that are older and were IndyCar fans before the internet was readily available, can appreciate whatever coverage we get at a test like this.

In the early nineties when a test like this took place, I had to wait a few weeks to read about it in my monthly issue of IndyCar Racing magazine. They would have a writer/photographer on site to document the test. We would go over each photo of the latest version of a Lola, Reynard or Penske chassis usually in blank livery with only the name of the sponsor in while letters on a black sidepod. That’s generally when we found out which numbers the drivers would be running for the upcoming season.

Our expectations have risen quite a bit over the past quarter-century. But just days after the Super Bowl, I think most IndyCar fans will be happy with any morsels we can get from the Feb 8 test from Monterey. That will serve as the February appetizer, while Spring Training at COTA will be the main course. My only complaint is that Spring Training is scheduled for the next Tuesday and Wednesday, instead of the following weekend (which, of course, is the weekend of the Daytona 500). If you recall, last year they held Spring Training at Phoenix on a Friday and Saturday. The Friday practice went well into the night. Although Susan wasn’t thrilled about it, that provided our Friday night TV viewing. As I recall, we had snow on the ground that weekend so I spent most of Saturday watching Spring Training from Phoenix as well.

There was only one camera that was stationary and mounted high over Turn One. There was also one hand-held camera for pit road interviews. It was bare basics, but for that time of year – it worked.

With the twenty turn, 3.427 mile layout of COTA, it’s pretty obvious they will need more than one camera. But I still think it will be bare-bones coverage. But that’s fine. It will be February.

We are just past the halfway point of the IndyCar offseason. The season ended at Sonoma on Sep 16 and the next race will be at St. Petersburg on Mar 10. It’s a weird phenomenon, but once we get past Christmas and New Year’s – things suddenly seem to pick up rapidly. Once the bowl games are over, we’ll only be a month away from that first test at Laguna Seca. When Spring Training wraps up the next week, we’ll be less than a month from the drop of the green flag at St. Petersburg.

So the takeaway message of all this is that if you are going nuts and starving to see Indy cars on track; once we put the Christmas decorations away – the test at Laguna Seca will be just around the corner.

So enjoy the holidays, because once they are over – things will get serious. Get ready!

George Phillips

10 Responses to “It’s Just Around The Corner”

  1. BrandonWright77 Says:

    You should watch the Daytona 24, usually several IndyCar drivers participate so it’s the closest we get until March. Should be even better this year since NBC will be showing it instead of FoxSports.

    • I usually watch part of it. Comcast here doesn’t carry FS2, so unless I wanted to dial it up online I wasn’t even able to watch the bulk of it. With it on NBC, I should be able to see more next month. It’s always good to see any type of racing in January. – GP

      • BrandonWright77 Says:

        I hope the NBC commentating team is better than the Fox team. On Fox they rarely discussed what was happening on track and instead would just have general motorsports chit-chat or share various motorsports stories. It’s already hard enough to follow what’s happening on track with this series, having a commentary team that doesn’t actually call the race makes it worse. I get that they have a LOT of time to fill but they take it a bit too far.

  2. Paul Fitzgerald Says:

    I’m afraid I would walk across the street to watch the Daytona 500. I watch some of the Rolex 24 but I wish the track layout was more interesting. Still the are some great drivers in it and I like to keep track of it.

  3. billytheskink Says:

    My racing season starts with following the Chili Bowl (Conor Daly is entered, IndyCar fans!) and Supercross.

    I wish spring training at COTA was on a weekend, I’d be there easily.

  4. Rolex24 is always the start to my racing year. I turn on the Daytona 500 every year. My wife rightfully makes fun of me every year for doing so. I watch about 10 laps, lose interest, and then just wait for real racing at St. Pete!

  5. I think it is a safe bet that Robin Miller will be at the spring training events that you mentioned accompanied by video. I hope he is at the Chili Bowl. I am glad that Connor Daly is entered at the Chilli Bowl Maybe Gabby Chavez will give it a try.

  6. Chili Bowl!! I can’t wait! Being in Tulsa in January is still on my racing wish list. I will miss Dave Despain leading the MAV-TV broadcast, as he is still one of my heroes.

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