The 2018 IndyCar calendar was revealed just before lunchtime Pacific time, and it has produced a variety of opinions from IndyCar fans and experts in that time. Some praising the addition of Portland International Raceway, a road course from the Champ Car (CART) days; others disheartened by the exclusion of Watkins Glen and provisional status of Mexico at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
The official IndyCar press release says it is building on ‘consistency and stability’, journalistic buzzwords for boring? Not quite. It’s true the 2018 calendar isn’t much different from the 2017 edition, however for a series that wants to gain a more solid foothold of the North American Motorsports market, this is a good thing.
Major change could disrupt all that IndyCar has achieved in the nearly decade since the Champ Car/Indy Racing League merger/reunification. Therefore, if IndyCar can convince fans it’s here to stay, more will come. At present, the major draw for IndyCar is the Indianapolis 500, with over 300,000 people in attendance. IndyCar would like to take a sizable chunk of that audience and spread it around to the other 16 races. Best way to start: make sure races will be there for the long-term. That’s consistency and stability.
The comeback of Portland should also attract some diehard CART fans who didn’t go along with Tony George’s then-IRL series. Bringing CART back into the mix could be a great way to regain those fans and solidify IndyCar’s presence.
The 2018 calendar runs from early March to mid September spreading out 17 races over seven months. The season starts in Florida on the streets of St. Petersburg. As it has on a permanent basis since 2011. Then there is three-week gap before we get to three April races. Phoenix has been moved up from the end of April to the beginning, with race day on the 7th. Then a short trip to southern California and the streets of Long Beach on the 15th. Ending the April races at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on the 22nd.
May is all about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. With the Indy Grand Prix on the 12th and the 102nd Indy 500 taking place on Memorial Day weekend. June starts with back-to-back races at Belle Isle in Detroit on the 2nd and 3rd. Then Texas on the 9th with Road America at the end of the month.
In July, Iowa and Toronto are in back-to-back weeks, at the beginning of the month. Mid-Ohio ends July on the 29th. Drivers and teams have a three-week gap/summer break before Pocono on August 19th. The first of two August races. The second is Gateway on the 25th.
Twitter: Welcome back to @IndyCar, @Portland_GP!
DYK: @MarioAndretti is the only driver to win Portland & Pocono in the sa… https://t.co/J8YjQyF9Sx (@poconoraceway)
September sees the return of an old friend as racing in the Pacific Northwest returns at Portland International. Eight current drivers have raced at Portland but only Sebastian Bourdais has won at Portland, in 2004 and 2007. Then the season wraps up in Sonoma. Hopefully there’s another plethora of drivers gunning for the title at the last race again next year.
Twitter: It’s Official! @indycar will race at @PortlandRaceway 2018, 2019 and 2020! #PortlandGP
https://t.co/q36P109Rji https://t.co/WMX1TiU5py (@Portland_GP)
The official IndyCar calendar does say “subject to change” whether that means IndyCar are working still to place Mexico we’ll have to wait and see. One thing’s for sure whether it is a 17 or 18-race season it promises to be just as tight and just as unpredictable.