The newly compressed 2014 IndyCar Series schedule was released on Thursday and will feature 18 races across five months but the resulting seven-month off-season may leave the sport with too much inactivity prior to the 2015 season.
The campaign does not include newly departed races in Brazil and Baltimore but does feature the inaugural road course race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Next season will begin on Sunday, March 30 on the Streets of St. Petersburg for the fourth season in a row and run through Aug. 30 when the campaign ends at Auto Club Speedway for the third consecutive year.
"The 2014 schedule reflects a more condensed North American calendar to increase the consistency with our race weekends," Hulman & Co. Mark Miles said. "We'll be building momentum throughout the season toward crowning our champion on Labor Day weekend."
Miles added that the street course race in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which has been contested the past four seasons, may return next year but is not currently part of the schedule as it stands.
The 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 25. Qualifying weekend is scheduled for Saturday, May 17 and Sunday, May 18 with the new Grand Prix of Indianapolis scheduled for May 10.
"We're excited about the new month of May at IMS and our first Grand Prix of Indianapolis," Miles said. "Many people want to see more of our racing, and we're putting some of it on our most iconic stage and building toward the '500.' We want to use the strength of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the '500' to leverage value for the IndyCar Series and vice versa."
Four road and street course events will open the season, while the drive to the championship in August includes road courses at Mid-Ohio Sports and Sonoma Raceway, a race on the one-mile Milwaukee oval and the closing race on the two-mile Auto Club Speedway oval.
"With the most diverse calendar in all of motorsports, we want the build-up to the championship to reflect our versatility by featuring a short oval, a road course and superspeedway in the final three consecutive weekends of our schedule to highlight the talent of our drivers," Miles added.
The off-season after next year will be much longer as a result and could invite the casual fan to lose interest in an already niche product. It will be interesting to see if IndyCar responds by starting the 2015 season earlier in the year to offset that difference.
A street course event in Fort Lauderdale would be ideal for early March while the rumored races at Road America and the street course at Providence, RI could extend the schedule deeper into the summer. But those discussions will come later.
The complete 2014 schedule can be found below.
- March 30 Streets of St. Petersburg (Fla.)
- April 13 Streets of Long Beach
- April 26 Barber Motorsports Park
- May 10 Grand Prix of Indianapolis
- May 25 Indianapolis 500
- May 31 Raceway at Belle Isle Park
- June 1 Raceway at Belle Isle Park
- June 7 Texas Motor Speedway
- June 28 Houston Reliant Park
- June 29 Houston Reliant Park
- July 6 Pocono Raceway
- July 12 Iowa Speedway
- July 19 Streets of Toronto
- July 20 Streets of Toronto
- Aug. 3 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
- Aug. 17 Milwaukee Mile
- Aug. 24 Sonoma Raceway
- Aug. 30 Auto Club Speedway