28 January 2010


Every once in a while, my work takes me on the road - last week was such a case.

With games in Kansas City and Cedar City, Utah, I had the opportunity to visit two cities (KC and Las Vegas) that the Izod IndyCar Series either races in or used to race in.  And in the case of Las Vegas, I think most IndyCar fans would like to see a return to the track.

The Izod IndyCar Series race at Kansas Speedway is the last race prior to the Indianapolis 500, and is currently the only oval on the schedule prior to Indy. This year, it is slated to be run on May 1, on ABC no less. Rumors abound that Kansas would like to add another NASCAR race to its schedule, which already runs there on Oct. 3 this year.

As for Las Vegas, it used to be a staple of the earlier IRL schedule, but the league has not run there since the 2000 season, when Al Unser Jr. took the win after starting 21st.  The IRL ran 5 times at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before the Speedway Motorsports, Inc., course stopped bringing the series to town.  In return, LVMS now has one NASCAR race, run on Feb. 28, and two NHRA races.

Now, in the interest of fairness, I was in Kansas City, Mo., not Kansas City, Kan., which is roughly 16 miles from downtown Kansas City to the Kansas Speedway.  However, for racing fans not staying near the track, downtown Kansas City, Mo., has plenty to offer.

For anyone bringing a family, the College Basketball Experience - attached to the Sprint Center - offers an interactive history of college basketball, with pop-a-shot machines, low-level rims on which to dunk, a tv-highlight simulator and an assortment of other basketball-related activities.

Directly across the street from the Sprint Center is Kansas City's Power and Light District.  Families can visit and sit down for a nice meal (BBQ, Ted's Montana Grill, and an AMC are just some of the attractions in the Power & Light District).

For the adults traveling to the race, Kansas City recently opened their Power and Light District, which is comparable to Louisville's 4th Street.  With numerous restuarants, bars, clubs, and outdoor seating, patrons can walk about freely throughout and enjoy a night on the town.

Even in mid-January, you could walk outside in the district, due to heat lamps and chimineras that were set up outside.  And I would presume that the weather in Kansas City in late April/early May is far better than the weather in Kansas City in mid-January.

The only drawback to Kansas City comes to those flying in and out of the city.  Frankly, the Kansas City Airport has not adapted to post-September 11 security.  For those coming to KC, there are no hassles - it's a bit of a hike to baggage claim, but I cannot complain about that.

However, I do have a bone to pick with KC's departing flight setup.  Unfortunately, security checkpoints at the airport are practically on top of the gate; there are virtually no shops between security and the gates, meaning you either purchase a drink outside security and drink it all or don't buy anything for your flight.  Not the best options, there.

That said, when your only complaint about a place is the inconvenience of a departing flight, you're in good shape.  With the quality of racing at Kansas Speedway (it's usually among the Izod IndyCar Series' top tracks), I would highly recommend visiting Kansas City for the race.

As for Las Vegas, what more can you say?  Now, here I will acknowledge that there is no idication that SMI has any interest in bringing the Izod IndyCar Series back to Las Vegas, but I think it needs to happen.  LVMS has only one NASCAR race, and I don't think the NHRA is a big enough draw throughout the rest of the year (along with several minor circuits) for the track.

My proposal: a night race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

Yes, it gets ridiculously warm in Las Vegas in the summer.  However, if the IICS went to Vegas in September or October, as part of a closing stretch to the season, I think a race there could work.  Night temperatures would be lower (around 70-66 degrees) and more palatable for fans.

Between a night race and sights of Las Vegas lit up during the evening, the race could be a visual hit on TV.  Add to it the fact that Las Vegas Motor Speedway is just a few miles from The Strip (with shuttle service provided), and putting a race in Vegas is a winner from a fan perspective.  Frankly, it's a matter of convincing SMI that a race there would work.

Imagine the Izod IndyCar Series, with its fashion-forward marketing philosphy, closing the schedule with Las Vegas and Miami?  Those sound like some good parties (and racing) down the stretch.


  1. We will have to wait for this until IndyCar is healthy enough to LVMS authorities accept the idea. Btw, does not West Coast night races cause problems with East Coast viewers' sleeptime?

  2. Yes, a West Coast night race might not attract all the eyeballs on the East Coast, I'll admit.

    Unless the race is scheduled for late September or October, when it's actually ok to go outside for a longer period of time during the day, it would have to be at night, I would think.