The triple dream of the head of the United States GP F1 + MotoGP + IndyCar
After the untimely demise of the W Series, at least for 2022, Formula 1’s 2022 United States Grand Prix support bill is historic.
It’s a pretty cool offering: 1966-1985 F1 cars headline the Masters Historic field and Masters Historic Legends is for pretty much anything that’s had a crack at the 24 Hours of Le Mans or the top races. of American sports cars between 1982 and 2017.
But could IndyCar be on the bill for a future United States GP?
Or even MotoGP…?
This is obviously far too crazy an idea to materialize.
But it’s one that popped up during a recent conversation between Circuit of the Americas President Bobby Epstein and Scott Mitchell-Malm of The Race.
Asked what the United States GP needed to do to reach the next level, Epstein’s mind quickly turned to the support bill.
“Some of the support races for the fans, [we need to] do some of the ones that fans are interested in,” Epstein told The Race.
“Maybe an IndyCar support race? I just throw it over there, I don’t know.
“But to make it a full race weekend, like no one has ever done, it might take us and maybe differentiate us from some of the other events.
“It’s a question of the size of your paddock.
“But as far as the weekend goes, I think that’s it. I always want to make it the best place for racing fans to see the best racing and the best competition possible on the track.
“Because I feel like our staff are doing a great job of delivering the off-track experience and that’s all we control.”
When it was mentioned that Austin is one of the few tracks that currently hosts both F1 and MotoGP, Epstein liked to sound like an even more extravagant double bill.
“If we can have IndyCar or MotoGP, or even a stock car race, as part of the general weekend, until you make it the most amazing weekend for racing fans, that would be interesting. “, he reflected.
“I never expect that to necessarily happen. But from a fan perspective, that’s what I think fans might appreciate.
F1 support bills in Europe are a fairly standardized rotation of F2/F3/W Series/Porsche Supercup, with things mixing more with flyaways.
This is where support packages vary from little/none (just a Porsche National Series race at the Japanese GP last weekend) to the famous Australian GP bill which also includes the best Supercars in the National Championship (pictured above) and this year had S5000 single-seater national series too (and more Porsches).
The upcoming Mexican GP actually features a kind of F1/IndyCar crossover: a ‘Legends Cup’ in which IndyCar race winners Mark Blundell, Bruno Junqueira, Paul Tracy, Max Papis, Oriol Servia, Michel Jourdain Jr , Mario Dominguez and Alex Tagliani will be battling it out in the Super Cup GTM National Series cars!
IndyCar is relatively accustomed to splitting bills. This has long been done with the lower tiers of NASCAR and the IMSA SportsCar Championship and its predecessors, and this year even had a joint event with the NASCAR Cup Series at the Indianapolis road course.
He also raced successfully at Austin in 2019 – when F1 aspirant Colton Herta took his maiden win on just his third start in the series.
Could IndyCar split a bill with F1?
Let’s start by saying that if a motorsport fan had a choice, we would of course like to see Formula 1, MotoGP, IndyCar and NASCAR go head-to-head in the same event. A combination of any of them would excite any fan, surely?
The biggest problem is that there are too many egos involved. Each championship wants to protect its own interests and not be left behind by a close rival.
IndyCar is the championship that has been the most open-minded about this, because under Roger Penske it has raced twice with NASCAR’s national series, once with the Xfinity series in 2021 and once with the Cup series and Xfinity earlier this year, both on the Indianapolis Road Course. He had the most to lose by being an understudy in all but name, especially this year with the Cup Series in town.
IndyCar certainly felt overshadowed at this event. It was a fantastic combination of high-level championships from a neutral standpoint, but Saturday’s race certainly did nothing for IndyCar’s stature this weekend. NASCAR is a much bigger series and deserved its title status, and it proved why these weekends are tough to run.
It’s no secret that ticket sales for the Brickyard 400 NASCAR event have been down since their peak in recent years, so I think that’s also an important thing to consider. Would Penske be so eager to experiment if his NASCAR event was a sold-out weekend? I still hope he would, but we don’t know the answer to that question.
I hate to be pessimistic – mostly because of my love of racing crossovers born out of Jeff Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya’s 2004 NASCAR/F1 car swap at Indy – but there’s just too much vested interest to bring major series such as F1 and NASCAR together at one event.
And IndyCar would risk eclipsing F1 with its spectacular on-track product, even if it is eclipsed by the sheer stature of F1 if they share a weekend.
The idea of bringing together MotoGP and F1 in the same event is even more far-fetched.
Even regardless of the logistics of the coexistence of car and motorcycle safety and paddock setups, MotoGP has a very well-established support bill format of its Moto3 and Moto2 ladder series, sometimes plus MotoE, the Red Bull Rookies Cup and various Regional Talent Cups.
Could MotoGP and F1 one day share a bill?
The idea of MotoGP and F1 together in some respects makes absolute sense: in fact, it makes much more sense for the two-wheeled series, given the huge popularity of F1 at the moment in the United States. , and the possibility of joining it.
From a technical standpoint, there probably won’t be much to stop it either, with Circuit of the Americas being designed from day one as a dual-use facility that doesn’t require significant modifications when it hosts two different types of races.
It’s not something that’s ever been attempted before at this level, at least not in recent memory, but it’s a format that’s been a staple in the lower tiers, with the Macau Grand Prix being perhaps to be the most publicized event of this type. The World Touring Car Championship, FIA Formula 3 World Cup and the cream of the Isle of Man TT grid in superbikes have all shared a paddock there.
There is one significant hurdle preventing a joint MotoGP/F1 bill from happening. Unlike IndyCar or NASCAR (still national series by nature), MotoGP is a world championship that sees itself as an equal to F1, not a support race – and the collective ego of the paddock might just be enough to thwart any attempt. to make the two work together even despite the considerable incentives that would come with it.
If COTA wants a two-wheeled support class, there’s likely a chance to do so with the US national series MotoAmerica, which already heads to the Texas track to race alongside MotoGP every year (as it previously did on the former site of Laguna Seca).
Epstein (pictured above with former F1 boss Chase Carey) is well aware his F1/MotoGP/IndyCar/NASCAR quadruple-header dream is just a fantasy, but said the fact that Even being willing to consider pursuing such combinations shows his event’s commitment to the fans.
“I think it’s a nod to the fans to give them, on every level, whatever we do, the best we can,” he said.
“You have one of the best leads in the world and you have to make the best use of it, you have to put the best product in it every time you do it.”
And he reckons F1 chief Stefano Domenicali would be quite open-minded if Epstein approached him with the idea.
“I think he had been incredibly supportive actually,” he said.
“He’s great and was very open to suggestions. And I think he would accept it.
“And I think the questions he would have are very logical. ‘How big a pen do you have, Bobby, or ‘How much more do you want to build?’
“I mean, a lot of it is operational, but you and I are just throwing ideas out there. And so I’m going to throw that away.
“But it could be fun to put the bikes on. We will try other things. And he’s open to that. »