In this week’s edition of the IndyCar Notebook, it is all about the where the cars drive not the cars themselves or the drivers or the teams. In this entry of an all-track Notebook, we’ll look at the tracks that are making headlines this offseason (for better or worse) and a preview of the 2018 IndyCar schedule.
So let’s get to the Notebook!
Phoenix Raceway gets a new name
Phoenix Raceway, officially Phoenix International Raceway is already undergoing a $178 million renovation; scheduled for completion in March 2018. If the IndyCar Phoenix race stays toward the end of April—as in 2017—IndyCar will be the first major race series to drive the newly renovated track. The biggest change for drivers will be a new start-finish line.
It was announced in late September that PIR will be branded ISM Raceway in 2018. The corporate sponsor is ISM Connect which according to its website, “Is the world’s leading provider of digital engagement solutions for Fans, Brands and Venues.” The naming rights deal is $100 million for 10 years. Possibly done to offset some the renovation costs, which is not uncommon in North American sports.
California fires reach Sonoma
Northern California wildfires have reached Sonoma Raceway. The IndyCar season finale since 2015. Track officials say the circuit is not in immediate danger and have even opened up Sonoma as a temporary shelter for victims.
Track president and general manager Steve Page released the following statement in regards to the fires and the track.
“All of us at Sonoma Raceway extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to those who have been touched by the devastating North Bay fires.
Our facilities team and a number of local fire companies have been battling grassland fires on Cougar Mountain and elsewhere around our property, and at this point it does not appear any of the raceway’s structures or other facilities are at immediate risk. We appreciate all of the good wishes that have flooded in from friends around the state and country.”
Pocono will return in 2018
Pocono Raceway will return in 2018. The Trick Triangle is schedule for a mid-August race. Therefore organizers are expecting an August 18/19 race date. Final dates will be confirmed when IndyCar releases the official 2018 schedule.
Is Watkins Glen causing schedule delays
According to RACER, Watkins Glen may or may not be part of the 2018 IndyCar calendar. Robin Miller of RACER says that if Watkins Glen goes due to a lack of enthusiasm for its return, a Champ Car (CART) throwback might replace it. Portland.
For those too young to remember, Portland was an CART-sanctioned race from 1984 until 2007; a year before CART and the Indy Racing League unified to become present-day IndyCar. If it happens, Sebastien Bourdais would be the only current driver to win at Portland; having done so in 2004 and 2007. Confirmation on whether Watkins Glen stays or if it’s a Portland comeback, when IndyCar releases the official schedule.