It’s not all that shocking that the NTT INDYCAR Series won’t be going west this year. It’s not feasible in the the midst of a pandemic to travel too far from base especially when fans can’t even attend.
That’s why if you’re paying attention, INDYCAR is moving races to venues where fans, albeit limited amounts, can come.
Think about it, INDYCAR and their tracks can’t play host to races without fans. The series doesn’t have the TV deal that NASCAR has.
NASCAR’s contracts with NBC Sports and FOX Sports pay them over $8 billion over a 10 year span. By virtue of that, NASCAR pays tracks millions to come race. That’s why they’re able to race without fans right now.
INDYCAR doesn’t have that luxury. They charge a fee that ranges between 6-7 figures to come to tracks. How can a track make money when they owe INDYCAR that much but can’t have fans to offset the expense? They’re in the red. Why would they willingly go in the red with no way to make it up?
Then, why would INDYCAR give all their tracks deals to not pay? They need the money too.
So, in turn you get what you’re seeing. Texas got a deal to get the season started. Indy went off on July 4 because NASCAR shared the weekend and their millions. It didn’t cost IMS to have INDYCAR here that weekend.
But, look at the rest of the year. Road America wasn’t in position to host fans in June. They were in July. So the race moved. Iowa had fans. Mid-Ohio can have fans. Indy for the 500 can have fans. Gateway can host fans.
Portland and Laguna Seca can’t. So, move those three combined races (Laguna was a doubleheader) to venues that can host fans ie. Mid-Ohio, Gateway and IMS.
By adding races at venues with fans and using doubleheaders, it’s a win-win for tracks, INDYCAR, fans and NBC Sports.
The TV equipment is already set up. They get two races essentially without paying for travel and infrastructure set up. INDYCAR gets more races in a season and doing so with fans helps track revenue.
That’s why if INDYCAR is going to race in 2020 now, it won’t be behind closed doors.