IndyCar has been sent scrambling for a make-up race after their season opener at Brasília was unexpectedly called off, and it sounds like Circuit of the Americas may be in the running. Excellent.
If NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yards) are a thing, can I be a WIMBY? Circuit of the Americas is, admittedly, about twenty minutes from my doorstep on a good, traffic-free day, but I'd say that's still close enough to "my back yard" that I could be a Want In My Back Yard. Yes. Want.
The race in Brazil was cancelled abruptly this week by the Brazilian government agency that was footing much of the funding behind the race. Financial woes with the new venue were to blame for the sudden cancellation. Since then, IndyCar has been looking for a replacement venue.
RACER confirmed that IndyCar did, in fact, reach out to Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. They're also looking at several other venues at the moment as well, but COTA was the one that specifically earned a shout-out.
IndyCar President of Competition Derrick Walker had this to say in RACER of the scramble to find a new venue for the season opener:
Once the news broke coming out of Brazil, we immediately began speaking with tracks to see what their schedules might allow. We're working to come up with answers on what we will do and have communicated with our teams and partners that our goal is to have our options and direction in place early next week. If nothing comes from making another race happen, we'll go as planned with the next race on the schedule at St. Pete.
Because this is IndyCar, simply waiting it out for the second race on the schedule at St. Petersburg isn't as simple as you'd think. Brazil was originally the only date where teams would be running the old aero kits on their cars. Testing with the new kits isn't allowed until March 1, so making the first race be at St. Petersburg would make teams want to get the aero kits sooner because there would be no race using the old kits on the schedule anymore. Teams have been testing using the old aero kits in anticipation of the Brasília season opener.
Walker told RACER that getting the new aero kits to teams sooner is likely doable:
That date could be brought forward because teams could get them at the first of the month and test sooner than they'd planned from being away at Brazil. If everything is ready earlier than that, everybody has a kit to use, we would gladly bring the testing window forward.
Manufacturers have always had the ability to deliver the kits earlier than March 1, but teams were not allowed to test before that date, and with Brazil in mind, we'll react to opening the testing window once we know more about our options.
Count me in as someone who thinks running one race with an old aero package is incredibly silly. I know they have to make things doable for their suppliers and make it fair so that whoever's supplier has them ready first doesn't get a big advantage over the others, but c'mon. Only one race in the old spec? Guysssssss. Why?
Either way, IndyCar's plans for Musical Aero Kits have certainly accelerated the need to replace Brasília instead of cancel it outright.
What could possibly go wrong with a Circuit of the Americas date? For one, Pirelli World Challenge is set to run on the March 6-8 weekend at Circuit of the Americas that IndyCar was initially going to run in Brazil. That being said, PWC is the headlining series that weekend, when it often serves as a support series for—you guessed it—IndyCar. Combining the two into one big awesome weekend makes a lot of sense.
Not everyone would be happy with a run at COTA, either. (I tend to refer to those people as "total poops.") While there's the ever-present rumor that Bernie Ecclestone doesn't like it when other open-wheel series run at Formula One's venues, that's one that's hard to confirm given Ecclestone's unreliable Diarrhea of the Mouth. We do know, however, that Eddie Gossage said that he might shut down the IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway in the most irrational act of butthurt ever should COTA get an IndyCar race.
Here's hoping that Gossage realizes that a TMS oval race is a whole different Game of Balls than a COTA road race, that Fort Worth is still pretty far from Austin, and that hosting IndyCar at COTA a full three months before TMS' date isn't going to do much in terms of hurting TMS' attendance. If anything, if IndyCar does opt to share a weekend with World Challenge, it might convince World Challenge fans to go to TMS' race because "hey, these are cool."
I'm not the only one who's excited about a possible COTA date, either:
Fans have been asking for IndyCar to visit America's new, shiny road course ever since COTA was a glorified goat path cut into the brush.
If COTA can't work out, here's hoping they at least pick another road course to replace the left-and-right-turn Brasília track. Laguna Seca, Road America and Watkins Glen all come to mind as circuits fans would love to see on IndyCar's schedule, so here's an opportunity to make one of those happen.
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