For the first time ever, we will get the two biggest premiere racing series in North America together at the same race track on the same race weekend. The NTT IndyCar Series will run on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course this Saturday (July 4) while the NASCAR Cup Series drivers will take to the famed 2.5-mile oval at IMS for the Brickyard 400 on Sunday (July 5).
This move was first announced this spring when it was not realistic to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past May. So, Roger Penske, the new owner of IMS/IndyCar reached out to NASCAR to see if there was any interest in splitting the Brickyard weekend with them.
In short demand, the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on the same road course went from a pipe dream in November to a reality in December to happening in January. So, if any one could make this work, it was Penske.
So, with NASCAR agreeing that a NASCAR/IndyCar doubleheader at Indy was good, off we go this weekend. Now, the main question asked, is this a one-off or could this happen again in the future?
We know IMS officials would like to move the GMR Grand Prix back to May. They feel the addition of that race to the month of May in 2014 was big for the Indy 500 too. It was a great build up to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
No longer do we need all that practice, nor two weekend’s of qualifying at Indy. So, in came the Grand Prix.
Now, does it move back to May in 2021 or does it stay with the Brickyard weekend?
If NBC Sports has their way, they’d love to keep this weekend around next year.
“I have a strong suspicion this will be the start of a beautiful relationship,” NBC Sports executive Sam Flood said of the NASCAR/IndyCar doubleheader. “This is the future.”
Think about it, this is a win-win for all parties. It’s no secret NASCAR’s TV deal with NBC Sports is much larger than IndyCar’s. NASCAR, shares their money with the tracks where IndyCar can’t.
The tracks get more bang for their buck because instead of opening the gates twice for two different series, they only open them once and get to use the TV money to offset IndyCar’s sanctioning fee.
NBC Sports gets more bang for their buck to have all their cameras and setup at the track already to air both races in the same weekend. It’s more profitable for them too.
Then, the exposure is larger for a crossover weekend too.
“It’s huge,” says Conor Daly.
“It’s monumental,” said Graham Rahal. “It’s a shame we will not have fans in attendance to see it all with us, but this is a great weekend for motorsports, and I’m excited to see what this can do for us in the future.”
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon feels the same way.
“I’ve been excited as soon as the NASCAR-INDYCAR doubleheader was announced,” said five-time Indy Car champion, Dixon. “It’s fantastic. I hope it’s something that will progress to more in the future.”