Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Indy's New Schedule - Nice Try, Better Luck Next Year

Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced yesterday a raft of changes to the Month of May. You can read about the particulars elsewhere, but here’s a quick summary of what they announced:

Opening Day – Saturday May 15 (includes Rookie Orientation somehow, it’s unclear how at this time)

Practice – Sunday May 16 through Friday May 21

Pole Day – Saturday May 22

Bump Day – Sunday May 23

Carb Day – Friday May 28

Race Day – Sunday May 30

First, I’ll give them props for moving Opening Day from a Tuesday to the weekend. That was a no-brainer, in my opinion, and something that should have been taken care of this year.

I’m going to keep the criticism very short and sweet, due to some severe time limitations on my part that’ll keep me out of the loop for several days here. In my opinion, this is not the most thought out schedule that IMS could have come up with. What we got is seven days of practice and two days of qualifying, way more practice than what’s needed for two days of qualifying. To boot, any team that would have been prone to doing a “second week” program for additional car or cars after putting a primary car or cars into the race on the first weekend will no longer have that option. With the new schedule, they will be trying to get their primary cars into the race early on Saturday, and then they’ll have a matter of mere hours to put together additional efforts, where before they had several days.

Here’s the schedule I would have gone with, as I wrote in to Trackside’s website back in May of this year:

Rookie Orientation Program – Thursday May 13

Opening Day – Friday May 14 (perfect for folks looking to play hooky)

Practice – Saturday May 15

Pole Day (first 21 grid slots) – Sunday May 16

Track Closed – Monday May 17 through Wednesday May 19

Practice – Thursday May 20 and Friday May 21

Day 2 Qualifying (positions 22 through 33) – Saturday May 22

Bump Day – Sunday May 23

Carb Day – Friday May 28

Race Day – Sunday May 30

You want days on track cut back, so that teams aren’t spending as much money on track time? My pre-race schedule has seven total days of pre-Carb Day track time, eight if you’re doing ROP. The actual new schedule has nine. Mine’s one better. When are the fans most likely to come out to the track? In my opinion, that’s for qualifying, since not too many people are liable to come out for just practice. My schedule has three days of qualifying, as opposed to the actual schedule’s two. Again, one better. Less practice, more qualifying. With my schedule, there can be “second week” deals aplenty, as the teams that qualify on the first week have plenty of time to work out terms and then try to get up to speed. The actual schedule gives you less than 24 hours, from “ink drying on the contracts” to “in the qualifying chute”. My schedule is short of pre-Pole Day practice, but really, any team that’s trying to get into the first seven rows won’t need seven days of practice to tune and tune and tune (as the actual schedule has). Both schedules have days built in for weather delays, though I prefer where mine fit (Pole Day can be Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, and still leave time for second week deals).

Again, props to IMS for trying something to save the teams (and themselves) some cash, but this could have been better executed.


Dan said...

I like your schedule, but I love Fast Friday, THAT is the ultimate hooky day in my opinion.

What's your thought on the start time for the race? That was my biggest disappointed.

The SpeedGeek said...

I agree, Fast Friday is a great hooky day, but Opening Friday followed by, uh, Expeditious Saturday is not a bad combo, either.

As for the start time, I'm not a huge fan of the 1:00 PM start, but it does give you a chance to see the start of Monaco or whatever GP might be going on that day. I'd probably prefer a noon start, in order to go back to the "traditional 11:00" start that would theoretically allow, somebody to do the Indy/Charlotte double. I'm hopeful that IMS will address this in the future as well, right around the time that they give me "lifetime seat upgrades" for coming up with the perfect May schedule.

Dan said...

Expeditious Saturday - That is epic. I am stealing it.

Yeah, earlier start time would be sweet. I am calling it right now - the Milka Duno Double. She shall be triumphant.