The 2009 Indy Car calendar has been announced and there are three big changes.
The Nashville oval is out and two of the top ex-CART/Champ Car venues join the schedule. Both are street tracks: the first is Long Beach, the iconic CART venue once used for Formula 1, which will hold the second round of the season.
The second is the popular Toronto course, the second Canadian addition to the series after Edmonton joined this year. Here’s the calendar in full:
2009 IndyCar calendar
Sun 5th April – Streets of St. Petersburg – street course, 1.8 miles
Sun 19th April – Streets of Long Beach – street course, 1.968 miles
Sun 26th April – Kansas Speedway – oval, 1.5 miles
Sun 24th May – Indianapolis Motor Speedway – oval, 2.5 miles
Sun 31st May – The Milwaukee Mile – oval, 1 mile
Sat 6th June – Texas Motor Speedway – oval, 1.5 miles, night race
Sun 21st June – Iowa Speedway – oval, 0.875 miles
Sat 27th June – Richmond International Raceway – oval, 0.75-miles, night race
Sun 5th July – Watkins Glen International – road course, 3.4 miles
Sun 12th July – Streets of Toronto – street course, 1.721 miles
Sun 26th July – Edmonton City Centre Airport – road (airport) course, 1.973 miles
Sat 1st August – Kentucky Speedway – oval, 1.5 miles, night race
Sun 9th August – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – road course, 2.258 miles
Sun 23rd August – Infineon Raceway – road course, 2.245 miles
Sat 29th August – Chicagoland Speedway – oval, 1.5 miles, night race
Sun 6th September – The Raceway at Belle Isle Park (Detroit)– street course, 2.906 miles
Sat 19th September – Twin Ring Motegi – oval, 1.5 miles
Sun 11th October – Homestead-Miami Speedway – oval, 1.5 miles
I’m happy with the three major changes that have been made. I wasn’t a fan of the Nashville oval – concrete doesn’t seem a terribly suitable material for building a superspeedway for single seaters out of.
The two newcomers to the calendar – both ex-CART/Champ Car venues – are excellent circuits. There was a big effort to get Long Beach on the calendar this year but they couldn’t work out the date conflict with Motegi so they ended up with an odd compromise. It’s a wonderful venue and an excellent street circuit.
Toronto is also a fine track despite some sadness in its history (Jeff Krosnoff and a track worker died in a terrible accident there in 1996).
Writing for the Indy Star blog Curt Cavin gives some insight into the decisions. Surfers Paradise, the Australian street circuit, apparently is still a potential addition for 2009. The New Hampshire oval wanted an August date but it couldn’t be fit into the limited space around that time of the year.
Although I think the calendar is an improvement I still think there’s too many very similar short ovals and some fantastic venues that are being missed.
Kansas, Kentucky, Texas and Chicagoland are all a bit similar and Richmond and Iowa both seem too short for Indy Cars (compared to slower NASCARs) to me. I’ve always found the St. Petersburg street track a bit of a yawn as well.
Over the next few years I’d like to see some of these venues dropped and more CART/Champ Car classics returning.
A couple of fast ovals besides Indianapolis would be great – why not bring back Michigan and/or Fontana?
And there some exceptional road courses being missed: Road America, Portland and Laguna Seca would all be excellent additions and I hope they’re being considered.