With today's announcement that the IZOD IndyCar Series event in China has been cancelled, the prevailing presumption is that another race will have to be added to meet several contract requirements, most notably with IZOD and the NBC Sports Network. So, the hunt begins.
As much as I'd like to return to Chicago, Kentucky, Road America, Richmond, Cleveland, or Phoenix, the logistics of selling tickets, promotions, and endless other hurdles make such an event incredibly difficult to pull off. In my mind there is only one track with any hope of a success, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
I know what you're thinking, and I love the history of IMS as much as anyone but the "contamination" ship has sailed. Prior to NASCAR's first race on the famed 2.5-mile oval in 1994 everyone said "No, only Indy Cars drive at IMS" which quickly transformed into "IndyCar is the only open-wheel series to cross the Yard of Bricks". Then in 2000 the first Formula 1 event was held, but hey, INDYCAR was still the only open-wheel series to run on the oval. Well, that was until 2003 when the Firstone Indy Lights Series turned their first race laps at the Brickyard. MotoGP then held their first Grand Prix in 2008, and Grand Am along with the Nationwide Series will host their inaugural races in July. IndyCar's feeder series USF2000, Star Mazda, and Firestone Indy Lights cars have also taken laps on the infield road course. And don't forget, Dan Wheldon pedaled the DW12 chassis #001 around the 13-turn course during INDYCAR's testing phase of the new formula.
If we could go back to 1993 when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was still relatively sterile from other motor racing events, I'd be 100% against another IZOD IndyCar Series race at the facility, but we can't.
IMS makes the most sense on so many levels.
The loss of China likely leaves a gaping hole in INDYCAR's financial books which would only grow deeper with the addition of another race so late in the season. Would they still lose money hosting their own event? Yes, but taking into account track rental, travel and numerous other variables, the financial hit wouldn't be nearly as severe.
INDYCAR's struggles to draw attendance is well documented, but with the great majority of American Open-Wheel fans in central Indiana and the Midwest, an IZOD IndyCar Series race on the twistie at 16th and Georgetown would have plenty butts in the seats.
Given the schedule flexibility, financial considerations, attendance worries, ability to host a season finale banquet if needed, and just plain convenience, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a no-brainer.
My money is on Road America, though.