And Now, the Dreaded Offseason

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The last chapter for the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series has been written and a new champion has been crowned, as we close the book on this season. The schedule for 2023 has not been released yet, but there are few surprises expected. Some dates may change – especially the season-opener at St. Petersburg. The 2022 season opened in late February. I think that next season may open a week or two later, but we won’t know for sure until the schedule is released.

There is also a little mystery surrounding Texas. I think Texas will be back for next season, but all bets are off for 2024, when some major changes to the IndyCar schedule are expected. What I didn’t like about the IndyCar season starting earlier this season was that there were too many long gaps between the first few races. From the end of February until the end of April, only three races had been run – St. Petersburg, Texas and Long Beach. It’s hard for teams and fans to develop any type of rhythm when a series runs only every three weeks.

Let’s assume that the 2023 IndyCar season will start in mid-March. With this being mid-September that means that the new season starts in roughly 180 days or six months. That’s half a year! What are we going to do now?

Quite honestly, I’m not one to fret about the length of the offseason. To me, it seems about right. The NFL season is only about five months. I was never real good in math, but even I know that means their offseason is seven months. College football has eight months to keep fans waiting for the next season to start.

Some say the Major League Baseball season is too long, but from the start of their regular season to the end of the World Series is only seven months. That’s stretching it, but fans still get five months of a break before things start back.

I’ll tell you whose season is too long – the NBA and the NHL. Both of those leagues will start regular season play in less than a month, even though the NBA just crowned their 2022 champions in mid-June and the NHL waited until late-June to present the Stanley Cup. NASCAR is the worst, stretching their season from February into November. They essentially get off for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but they get back to work shortly after New Year’s as they prepare for the Daytona 500 in mid-February – unless you want to count that ridiculous exhibition they put on in the LA Coliseum. IndyCar fans probably feel cheated because their offseason is so much longer than NASCAR.

I really think that the IndyCar offseason is about right. There is such a thing as overkill, and I think that’s where the NBA, the NHL and NASCAR are. Their fans barely get a chance to catch their breath and reflect on the previous season, before it’s time to dive into the next one. When you go half of the year with no IndyCar races, it makes you appreciate it more when the series is in-season.

If you didn’t agree with me that the length of the IndyCar offseason is the right amount of time, you certainly won’t agree with me on this next point.

Personally, I am glad that the offseason begins about the same time as the NFL season cranks up. I know many would like to see the IndyCar season go into late October or early November, but I strongly feel that going up against the NFL is a losing proposition. I understand that many motorsports fans care nothing about the so-called stick & ball sports. Racing is the only sport they follow. But many of us are fans of more mainstream sports.

I’ve been an IndyCar fan since I was in the first grade, but I can’t even remember when I began following the Tennessee Vols. In my household growing up, Saturday afternoons in the fall were always dedicated to listening to the Vol Network. It was so ingrained into my DNA that I never even looked at the possibility of attending college anywhere else. I loved football so much, I found myself following the NFL just as closely as I did college football.

I have many friends locally that promised to boycott the NFL, when they started taking a knee during the National Anthem. While I didn’t like it or agree with it, my principles are not near that strong. I loved football so much, that I knew I would not stay away for one minute. Some of those friends claim they are still holding out, but I know many caved. The lure of football is too strong, even for those that claimed to boycott a few years ago.

I am happy that last weekend was the only weekend this fall where IndyCar and football overlapped. It seems the IndyCar season has been ending on the west coast for about the last decade or so. That has worked out well for me, because the Titans usually play at noon (central time). The IndyCar race usually starts at 2:30 CDT. That meant I could set the DVR and pick up the first of the IndyCar race about thirty minutes delayed. Zipping through the commercials I would usually catch up to the live broadcast before the halfway mark.

This past Sunday, the Titans kicked off at 3:25 CDT. I set the DVR for the Titans and watched the race live. As soon as the entire broadcast was over, I started the Titans game. By the time I finished watching that miserable performance that was capped off by a missed chip-shot field goal, it was well after 7:00 pm and I still had to write my Random Thoughts article – still fuming over the Titans loss. It was a long night, and I don’t want to have a long Sunday like that for a while.

I am not a good multi-tasker. When someone tells me they are a good multi-tasker, that tells me that they can do a lot of different things inadequately. When I focus on something, I am really focused. To a non-racing fan I am probably the most boring person they will ever meet, if they meet me in the Month of May. This past weekend was torture to me. The Vols played a big game on Saturday, and the Titans played Sunday. Throughout the weekend, I also managed to watch every IndyCar broadcast throughout the weekend on Peacock. There was just too much for me to keep up with and focus on.

Some will take this the wrong way, but I am usually very happy to see the end of the IndyCar season when it comes. I have been in race mode since late February. Now that football is here, I am ready to focus on football for the next five months. By the time the Super Bowl is played in February, I’ll be ready to get back into race mode again. It’s a never-ending cycle.

I feel sorry for those that follow no other sports besides racing. I guess they use those cold-weather months to actually get things done around the home, or maybe even do something that has nothing to do with sports – whatever that might be. Truth be known, some are reading this and are feeling sorry for me (or Susan) for being so shallow.

But by the time I finally went to bed on Sunday night, I saw people in anguish on social media, saying they already missed racing. I didn’t feel that way. I had a Titans game to gripe about at work the next day.

George Phillips

8 Responses to “And Now, the Dreaded Offseason”

  1. James T Suel Says:

    George iam one of those guys that only follows racing. It’s all I’ve ever known since child hood. I do watch the world series, and the superb owl. Maybe the Kentucky Derby. The off season is spent reading racing history, and catching up on book reading.

  2. billytheskink Says:

    It is nice that racing season turns into football season turns into basketball season turns into racing season… but I could watch racing and basketball year-round, so I don’t mind long seasons for NASCAR or the NBA.

    Going against the NFL does Indycar no favors in the TV ratings department, but racing into mid-fall does offer good weather opportunities at warm weather tracks that fans and promoters in those markets may prefer. I do think Indycar can pick its battles with a few races into the NFL season. It may benefit the series to avoid the NFL’s opening Sunday (where ratings have been most impacted) or look into Saturday races in the fall. It would probably also help the TV numbers a bit if the Colts are bad…

  3. My wish is for a twenty race series over eight months. 17 races plus Mexico and a South American race or two. Five ovals minimum.

    For the financial health of INDYCAR I want it to become a more popular series with tv/ streaming numbers up attracting more sponsors and a car limit of 28 apart from the 500. What I don’t want is a drive to survive replica which brings masses of groupies like in F1 and not petrol heads because the INDYCAR open paddock would disappear quickly.

    Sadly I want never gets !

  4. I worked as a photographer for about 35 years, largely covering sports. Today, all the sports I follow are INDYCAR and the Canadian Football League (the most entertaining football on the planet in my opinion). Outside of doing what I have to now, I spend my time on my music and my American Flyer train layout. We may have an interesting next two or three months watching who will drive what car for which team. Will Foyt be back with two cars next season, or at all?

    • Bruce Waine Says:

      From Motorsport.com today:

      “Due to the acrimonious fallout, Palou’s future was up in the air for two months but, in a stunning turn of events, Palou announced on Wednesday he is now staying put after all rather than join Arrow McLaren SP.

      I’m excited to announce that Chip Ganassi Racing and I have come to an agreement, and I’ll be back in the No. 10 car next season. Looking forward to a BIG 2023! Palou tweeted.”

  5. I’m with you 100% George. As much as I love IndyCar, it’s football season now! My racing season is over until the Rolex 24 in late January. That said, living here in South Bend, many local folks are confused……it appears nobody told Notre Dame the season has already begun! haha

  6. Bring on football season. My only wish is that IndyCar have their season finale the weekend prior to the NFL season week 1, or if their schedule bleeds into the NFL season, aim for Saturday races.

  7. Bruce Waine Says:

    One day closer to the 2023 Indy 500.

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