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Indianapolis: A Night Parade Is Hardly Better Than A Day Parade

By admin | February 12, 2013

 Single-file parade racing has become the norm at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

By Richard Allen

Word has been out for a while that the powers that be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are considering installing lights around that 2.5 mile facility for the purpose of running the NASCAR sanctioned Brickyard 400 at night rather than as a day race. The cost of such an undertaking would run into the tens of millions of dollars.

To help cover those costs, IMS is seeking additional tax revenues from the state of Indiana through a piece of legislation working its way through the state legislature. Also, remember that just after the New Year, fiscal cliff legislation in Washington allowed race tracks an extension on a tax break that allows them to write off investments made on their property.

Financing aside, what real benefits would come from the addition of lights around this most historic of tracks?

As a history teacher, I love tradition and it has been my long standing belief that NASCAR should be racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway… with its Sprint Cup division that is. The moving of the Nationwide Series race away from Indianapolis Raceway Park(or whatever its current corporate name) is a matter to be addressed on another day.

But for all its tradition and grandeur, IMS does not produce great racing. For that matter, it rarely even produces good racing.

Would that fact change with the addition of lights? It would be hard to believe that any real change in terms of the quality of racing would occur just because the race were run in a different time slot. A single-file parade race at night is hardly any better than a parade race run during the day time. Â

There are certainly benefits to night racing. Fan comfort during the summer months is certainly a worthy consideration. Television ratings could potentially be a bit better in prime time, although viewership of NASCAR races has been in a somewhat steady decline since 2007.

It remains to be seen if NASCAR’s new Gen-6 race car will make any sort of real difference in the quality of racing on “aero-dependent” tracks such as IMS and the 1.5 mile “cookie cutters”. If the new car helps improve racing and takes some of the parade element out, then it won’t matter so much what time the races are run. If the new car doesn’t help improve racing, then installing lights on such a big track will prove to be little more than an expensive gimmick.

The truth of the matter is, I just don’t see where the installation of lights will make much difference. A parade is a parade and good racing is good racing. Fans know the difference and won’t be fooled in either the darkness or the light.

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7 Responses to “Indianapolis: A Night Parade Is Hardly Better Than A Day Parade”

  1. Tony Geinzer Says:
    February 12th, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Personally, lights are the answer to Indy’s Brickyard 400. I would have cows over lights over any Month of May (Unless Necessary) and I feel that the Brickyard 400 should be just Cup, Nationwide or lower levels should return to IRP as I feel 33 Cars for the 400 would make it a legit race, not 43, Rich as the IndyCar History supercedes the NASCAR History, unlike other venues.

  2. Russ Says:
    February 12th, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    I think the real issue here is the age old one of public financing of private interests. While I realize that this blog is about racing not finance its all tied together.
    A recent article indicated that the TV contract paid all the expenses of the Brickyard race, leaving all the gate and concessions, something in the neighborhood of $4 million dollars as profit.

    Again I apologize for taking the post on a different tack, but seems like, just like Bruton Smith in Kentucky, if they are going to get the profit they should foot the bill.

  3. Derek Reeder Says:
    February 13th, 2013 at 5:03 am

    I actually like the idea of running the brickyard at night! It would put me to sleep for the entire night! Great idea there is nothing worse than getting up from a NASCAR nap at Indy. I agree they should move the Nationwide race to IRP much better races!

  4. Andy D Says:
    February 13th, 2013 at 6:06 am

    I’m in favor of lights at Indy because it would allow them to run the Indy 500 at night if weather prevented them from running at the traditional time.

    I don’t care about the Brickyard 500 at all, and I definitely feel that Grand-Am and Nationwide should go back where they came from. The racing was better at IRP.

  5. Michael in SoCal Says:
    February 13th, 2013 at 11:03 am

    I think the only winners in having the Brickyard 400 would be those loyal fans who attend the race to see the parade in person. At least the heat shouldn’t be so bad. No other winners in this deal.

  6. Michael in SoCal Says:
    February 13th, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Oops - I meant to say ‘the only winners in having the Brickyard 400 at night’…

  7. Sue Rarick Says:
    February 13th, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    The only way they could make the Sprint race interesting would be to run the road course. Maybe there’d be a pass then.