As we set sail into this thing known as the motorsport off-season I can help but want to write a piece on how… boring… it is.
Truly, we don’t need to extend the seasons of Formula One, IndyCar, Rally, and for the love of all that is holy do not extend NASCAR. The problem isn’t the timing of the off-season, but that there is a literal break in action for about 3 months; and let’s not pretend testing and “Silly Seasons” suffice. For now I and many other await the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Do we wait because it’s a great and amazing event? Not really, we wait because it’s the unofficial beginning to the motorsports year, by containing drivers from 7-8+ different series providing almost an All-Star type nature. That’s what we’re missing for the off-season; something that fills the space of November/December/January (possibly even February).
We’ve recently lost A1GP which was out best bet, but it was run so poorly and spread out that I lost its way and died. The Race of Champions is getting better, but its own announcers are unsure of how it operates, rules, and no one is allowed to watch it live (without going the extra mile). In the USA we have major Karting events that pull All-Star type rosters, but the SKUSA Super Nationals were held the week before ROC, so even with these off-season events, we’re still stuck in a lull.
What Do We Need? We need a proper international all-star series. And it needs to not be an expansion of ROC, A1GP or the U.S.’s former IROC series. Instead it needs to pull from all of them, it needs:
Multiple Race dates and locations (happening ONLY during the off-season of major series). A1GP had one thing truly correct, multiple dates touring internationally, with the qualifier that a country needed a “horse in the race” in order to host. It doesn’t need 15 rounds, but anywhere from 4-8 would suffice.
Competition via Nations: A1GP and even ROC has proven this to be the most effective route to make fans/onlookers pay attention to something new/foreign. Anytime you can quickly look and see national flags, it’s easy to pick a rooting interest, regardless of having to know the participants. But there is something neither A1GP nor ROC have done, and that’s requiring the different nations to form a line-up of drivers. Ireland won A1GP using only a single driver, Germany wins ROC using two; essentially it’s not a countrywide effort. So…
Force roster building and usage: Let’s say there are 7 race weekends involved. At each weekend there are two scored events (14 in all). Here’s the rule, each nation must field 6 different drivers in scoring competitions minimum (no maximum). This means Schumacher can’t run 100% of the events for Germany; at most he could run 9 of the 14. It needs to be more like the Ryder Cup in golf, or Olympics; countries need a strong roster, not just 1 person who holds it all up. Secondarily, it’s also so countries like USA, who have a MASSIVE/DIVERSE set of drivers to choose from, can get many of them in there; this year at ROC we were stuck (again) with Carl Edwards, a debatable-at-best champion, who went a whopping 0-4. This also means that a driver doesn’t have to go to all 4-8 rounds; they can just do one and then let countrymen pick up other dates if they have other commitments.
Competition diversity. This goes along with the schedule, but the rounds should tailor themselves more to helping the many kinds of drivers involved. A1GP was too strong for European drivers, ROC is at least better, but how about a round in the USA that resembles Rally X/Rally America; how about a round in Australia that more resembles V8 Supercars and some dirt buggying? ROC has many cars lying around, as does the former A1GP, which is for sale; and Rally cars aren’t hard to round up.
It needs more drivers/countries. ROC had a whopping 6-1/2 nations represented, not enough. Where were Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil!? A1GP at least had that better covered, and it worked great because it let you learn about other countries and their drivers and driver’s backgrounds when they come from other countries.
Lastly, It needs a way for people internationally to watch, without having to pay additional money than what they already pay for internet or TV.
Now… someone with a lot of money, go and do this! I speak broadly above, but hashing out these details are not hard, I’ll do that work, just ask me to, we’ll all be a lot less bored if it can be done