I love ovals and would love a schedule dominated with them. However I also realize why we don't have it...and again, it's not the series or teams preventing it. I believe there's several reasons all adding up to one big reason for the lack of attendance & ratings.
I don't know why it's so hard for some to realize that the series can't just 'decide' which races it wants and at what tracks it wishes (Las Vegas aside, but I'll get to that
). It has absolutely nothing to do with the series 'wanting' street races over ovals, that's just paranoid lunacy...it's about money. Currently only the street races are paying & 'wanting' a race.
New Hampshire tried to 'want' a race and look at the frosty reception attendance & ratings gave them...one & done. A similar scene played out at Milwaukee, and it's gone. Kentucky has dwindled substantially the past 4-5 years and now it's gone.
* Lingering effects of the split. To most of mainstream America the split didn't force them to choose a side, it turned them off and away. All they saw & read was the mud being slung as there was always plenty of bad press for both series. Most large Fortune 500 corporations shied-away as not to alienate any segment of their customer base, and the few that were present didn't promote their involvement. The racing and it's drivers were never seen outside the race itself in a good light. Not to mention that there were no commercials, no newspaper or magazine ads, no billboards and no 'shows' or specials in addition to the races. So today mainstream America has no idea when the races are, where they're at, what time they're on, what channel it's being shown and who's driving the cars.
* While too few American drivers doesn't help the series, the bigger problem is that no-one knows ANY of the drivers period. Outside of perhaps seeing a 5-10 second highlight 'in the car' no-one knows the drivers faces let alone their personalities or nationalities. Most here are no different than anyone else in America in that we can like people because of their personalities, not because of their nationality. We all have got to know & like the foreign drivers because we sought that out, mainstream America isn't going to do that so it needs brought to them. However that's not to say either that the IICS definitely needs more American drivers...and winning.
* Unstable and constantly changing schedule. In addition to there NEVER being any kind of advertisement of the races on network prime-time television, continually shifting dates compounded it. There needs to be continuity and patience. Have the same date year-after-year along with patience & diligence in knowing it's going to take several years of solid promoting to build an 'event'. The series needs to learn to promote and make every race 'events'.
* Versus has been a huge hindrance. That's not an excuse to say that the numbers would be substantially different if all the races were on ESPN. However Versus admittedly isn't a well-known channel or one that people would even scroll to just to 'see what's on'. Since there's still another 7-years on the contract, the hope would be that changing the name to NBC Sports and heavy promotion of it by NBC would be a start in at least gaining 'some' attention. Additionally the series needs to spend money to have first-class adverts & promos on NBC prime-time television the week leading up to a race explicitly telling the time & channel.
* A better job should & can be done in production of televising races, especially on road/street races in keeping interest through-out the field. No need to constantly show just the leader when there's no action. In addition to showing some 'racing' further back that might actually be interesting, it also gets 'other' names of drivers (and sponsors
) on television.
* The series and the tracks need to work together in promoting races, it helps both in the long run. Las Vegas showed a small glimpse that solid promotion could make an impact in capturing interest. IMO it would also benefit both if the schedule were developed where ALL the 'Road to Indy' series raced together with IndyCar. This would bring all the fans together in addition to providing all-day activity for those in the stands.
* Perhaps an oval-track rental is a start but realistically the series can't afford a schedule of them. So at the very least they need to try and make oval races 'events', all stops need to be pulled-out like they did Vegas. Perhaps two or three track rentals initially can help gain interest.
* And of course the biggest problem, the oval tracks themselves. Obviously the series doesn't need a schedule full of nearly identical 1-1/2 mile, D-shaped high-banked ovals. Additionally the tracks that do offer variety consideration is needed for season-timing as well as other racing series at the facility. The series doesn't have nor will it ever get first-choice at dates, especially at any ISC track. Beyond that decent attendance & ratings have to be made & maintained, which would take honest effort by both the IICS & the track. And even then, obviously substantial gains aren't going to be made in a season.
If those things can be over-come, then there could be hope for more oval races. And more importantly it could elevate the sport back to prominence & recognition by mainstream America. And that needs to start with the current schedule for next year.