IndyCar announced recently that the race in China will not be replaced and the schedule shall remain at 15 races for this year. It was rumored that their contract with Izod required the series run a minimum of 16 races as part of a contract clause, but it seems that both parties have agreed that 15 races is okay for this year. I have to say I concur with IndyCar's decision on this one.
Several tracks were rumored for replacing China including Michigan International Speedway and Road America, both of which have run American Open Wheel Races in the past and both of which are the favorites of many fans and drivers. The issue with adding a race this late in the schedule is the hiring of people to work the track (corner workers, parking staff, ushers, concession workers) and promoting the race. The Road America race was rumored to have taken place on the weekend of August 17-19, when the American Le Mans series is making its visit to Road America, which would have been the only ideal replacement. Why you may ask? The American Le Mans Series and the IndyCar series have a similar fan base for one, and the track already has people hired to work the track for the weekend. Promoting the race would not have been difficult either being that a major racing series was already running that weekend. Also the track could have offered a ticked for the IndyCar race at a reduced rate for American Le Mans ticket holders and could have let people camping for the weekend stay the extra night for little to no cost. So, Road America could have worked, but IndyCar would rather wait until next year to return to the track.
Running at Michigan however, would have posted a problem. For starters, the race would have been the series finale, which would have taken away from the track already hosting the season finale-Auto Club Speedway. That race is being promoted as the season finale, which is another marketing gimmick and should help sell tickets, which in the last few years IndyCar ran at Auto Club, the crowds were very minimal compared to the CART glory days when the race sold out. Michigan would also have to hire several hands in order to run the weekend, unlike the Road America situation where the required people would have already been there. Promoting this race would have been a bit of a problem. Trying to fill the stands with only 4 months of promotion would have been a stretch. Michigan definitely is a worth asset to IndyCar (like Road America), the track gave us several great races in its previous tenure, but it needs some time to promote before IndyCar can return there.
Follow Josh Farmer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jfarmer7710