The 2014 IndyCar schedule is a "transitional" calendar that could open the series to extensive international events in 2015 and beyond, IndyCar's top executive said.
Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., which oversees the Izod IndyCar Series, said the compact, 18-race, March-to-September schedule will eliminate lengthy periods of downtime during the season.
"The strategic move here is to condense the schedule," Miles said. "The point is to make the season more compact, which opens it up to international events before and after the North American part of the schedule. Frankly, we want to avoid a situation like we had this year, where we waited a month between races near the end of the season."
Miles' larger goal is to secure a handful of races in the southern hemisphere before the start of the North American portion of the schedule, then develop a Pacific Rim series after the North American season. Thus, a Labor Day weekend season finale next year at Fontana, California. That will come about a month and a half earlier than the 2013 finale.
"We want continuity and consistency," Miles said. "I don't think it's possible to race every week without a week off in between because of the demand it places on teams, but we want to be as close to that as possible."
The biggest surprise on the calendar, which will be officially released Thursday night during a live show on NBC Sports Network, is the absence of a street race in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that has been part of the IndyCar schedule since 2010. Miles indicated another Brazil race might emerge, perhaps as early as 2015.
"The crux of the issue as described to us by our promoter in Brazil was that the traditional venue was not going to be available to them this year," Miles said. "But we have reason to believe there's a lot of demand for IndyCar racing in Brazil."
The series will keep three doubleheader street races—in Detroit, Houston and Toronto—and Miles said he had to turn down demand from others—namely from promoters of the season opener in St. Petersburg, Florida—for more doubleheaders.
"Doubleheaders were a huge success from a promoter's perspective," said Miles, who was hired in November. "That's important to us, and the teams understand that. It's been a challenge for the teams, but we believe it was well worth it. We thought about demand for more of them, but we feel like this calendar is a transition to 2015, so we limited them to three."
Last month, IndyCar announced it would not return to a Baltimore street race. This month, it disclosed plans for a race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield road course two weeks before the Indianapolis 500.
Aside from the loss of Brazil and Baltimore and the addition of the Indy road race, the venues remain the same as 2013. However, many tracks had their dates moved around to accommodate the shorter time frame.
The Grand Prix of Houston will move from early October to June 28-29 next year. The Milwaukee Mile moves from June to August and will serve as the first of three races in consecutive weekends to decide the championship.
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