Grainy shots of an IndyCar testing an aero kit at Circuit of the Americas surfaced on the internet. So, will we see a race there? Nope! It's too close to Texas Motor Speedway, and the issue of proximity nixes a lot of other oft-requested tracks from the 2015 schedule, too.
In statements made to FOXSports.com, Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles explained that many popular and past venues including Road America, Chicagoland Speedway, Laguna Seca, Michigan International Speedway and Phoenix International Speedway are left off the 2015 calendar for being too close to IndyCar's current venues. (Hulman & Company own Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing League.)
Road America, for example, is very close to the Milwaukee Mile, a venue that has historical significance to IndyCar as well as an oval. Miles has said that there are a lot of street and road course venues on the schedule now, so keeping a good mix of road courses and ovals is key. Road America was a popular CART/ChampCar venue, but keeping IndyCar's loyal and historic venues on the schedule has taken precedence over adding ones from the other American single-seater series.
Texas Motor Speedway has hosted IndyCar since June 1997. Only Indianapolis Motor Speedway has remained on the calendar for as long of a continuous period of time. On the demand for a race at COTA, Miles said:
Texas Motor Speedway has been an important part of IndyCar for a very long time and we would like it to continue to be. But it's also this question: How many races should you have in the same region?
Every time we say it (COTA) might be a possibility my phone rings off the hook.
The number of races per region is a big reason why some of the oft-requested venues are off the schedule. Miles continues:
I think it starts with the discussion of total number of races you want to have. The sense in our paddock from our discussion with the teams is the number of races we have right now is about right. Maybe it could be one or two more but there is an economic limit to the number of races at least for now. If we got the television ratings up enough to drive sponsorship levels higher than the number of races could increase. But for now we are about the right number. So the first thing people have to think about is if we are going to add a race now we have to take one out. We try to be good partners and doesn't mean we wouldn't do that but we wouldn't do that lightly.
The second dynamic is how do we spread our finite races around the country? We have to be very thoughtful about oversaturating. One could make the case right now three races in California is enough. One could make the case we have a whole lot in the Midwest. It's just another lens to which to look through the development of the schedule; not just how many but in what regions. Texas is a big place with a lot of big cities but we have to be very thoughtful what's the right IndyCar race presence in any market.
Consistency in the schedule is a major concern as well. IndyCar was prepared to keep the somewhat controversial Baltimore Grand Prix on the schedule, but conflicts with Orioles and Ravens games meant that the series could have to move its date every year. So, it's been left off the schedule.
So, enjoy the test photos that may appear from venues like Circuit of the Americas. Pratt & Miller's aero kit made its debut via anonymous grainy photos leaked onto the Internet last week. This year, Pratt & Miller and GM Racing will develop aero kits for Chevrolet, and Wirth Performance and Honda Performance Development will do the same for the Honda cars.
Chevy's aero kit looks more like a Formula 1 car in certain respects, with its sculpted front wing endplates and an engine cover that falls away sharply after the intake plenum.
Racer.com has an excellent analysis of the key differences between the Chevrolet aero kit and the basic Dallara DW12 IndyCar.
While I'm disappointed that I won't get an IndyCar race mere minutes from my house, I'll live. It seems as if what they're doing with their scheduling is prudent and a good way to ensure there's IndyCar racing for years to come.