IndyCar is making changes for 2014 and not for the good according to Mario Andretti (as per this article). And to be honest, Mario is right.
Next season, the IndyCar season will run from late-March through to the end August. Essentially, truncating the season by ending it two months earlier than normal. The reason for this is to squeeze out the downtime teams have and pretty much have a race every week and cut out the summer hiatus—and probably cut costs. This move feels like white flag waving and not the kind that says there's one lap to go—although it could mean one last go around for the IRL if they go down this route.
IndyCar already has an image and popularity problem and in turn, a money problem—the real fuel that keeps racecars going. By shrinking the calendar to avoid things like the football season just screams that IndyCar can’t handle its place in the sporting marketplace and once you start thinking small, you will stay small. I fear that this move will ultimately marginalize IndyCar which is sad as I truly enjoy it.
And I don’t see the sense of a possible of international “winter series” especially when it’s a series of exhibition races. No one cares about exhibition races because nothing’s at stake.
Personally, I say go big, not small. That’s the only way to give IndyCar a boost. If I were the IRL, I’d examine heavily why NASCAR succeeds with fans where Indy doesn’t. Do something to boost the image of the drivers and cars. If IndyCar wants to go international, go for it. Hit up the countries that are losing their F1 status—such as Korea—and fill the void. Use the Circuit of the Americas for God’s sake. It’s there. And I hate to say it, bring a Beckham like figure to the series. It needs something that NASCAR and F1 don’t.
IndyCar can be a major player and it won’t be easy getting there, but going small isn’t going to do it. Ignore me at your peril, IRL. ;-)