With the IndyCar Series set to announce its 2024 schedule by the end of September, speculation abounds regarding what the schedule might look like.
There are a few race venues and dates already set in stone—Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend, duh—while some races are likely to change traditional dates to accommodate television partner NBC's three-week Summer Olympics coverage next year.
IndyCar's potential return to the Milwaukee Mile has long been rumored and the Indianapolis Star reports that the IndyCar race at Texas may go on a one-year hiatus due to scheduling conflicts with NASCAR. IndyCar has already announced a non-points-paying exhibition race at The Thermal Club for March 24 but one potential addition to the schedule has two legendary IndyCar champions a little hot under the balaclava, according to Motorsport.com.
One of the strongest rumors regarding the 2024 IndyCar schedule is the addition of a post-season non-points-paying exhibition race in Argentina, home to Juncos Hollinger Racing co-owner Ricardo Juncos and Agustin Canapino, who drives for the team. Last November, Juncos and Canapino put on demonstration runs in front of tens of thousands of their compatriots, marking the first time in more than half a century that an IndyCar has revved an engine in the South American country.
Additionally, Canapino is a national hero who has won 15 championships in Argentine sports car racing and was named Sportsman of the Year in 2018, so interest in IndyCar at Argentina is at an all-time high but IndyCar is reportedly reluctant to include a potential Argentinian race as part of its regular season.
"IndyCar, they have the product," three-time IndyCar champion and 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner, Mario Andretti, told Motorsport.com. "They have the drivers and the teams. They're good, solid teams. The talent pool of the drivers right now is probably unprecedented. And so why not expand it?
"I would love to see, not non-championship [races], but championship events if they're expected outside of [the] United States.
"I think any race that's part of the series, I don't care where it happens, should be a points race. Not, 'Okay, we're going to Argentina, but it's not a point race.'
"You know, Formula 1 used to have that; Silverstone used to have a non-points race. That doesn't work. It just doesn't really have any meaning, totally.
"You got to make it meaningful so the effort of everyone is 100 percent. And unless it's championship, everyone will go, 'Well, I think we got to relax on that one.' That that doesn't work. Just leave it alone then.
"Either do it right, go in there with both feet or stay the hell out. That's my point."
Bobby Rahal, another three-time IndyCar champ, winner of the 1986 Indianapolis 500 and co-owner of IndyCar's Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, agrees with Andretti.
"If we're going go somewhere, it needs to be worth it," Rahal tells Motorsport.com. "It needs to be worth it for the teams, for the series.
"When we raced in Australia and Japan, particularly in those two, those are very well profitable, very strong financially events for us in IndyCar.
"But quality events like Australia, like Japan, those were points events. And yes, if you're going to go all that way, I don't know why you wouldn't make it a points race. I don't know why.
"I mean, if you're going to have a race there, make it a points race. Make it mean something other than just maybe some financial value to it."
IndyCar has not raced outside of North America since the 2015 Itaipava Brasilia Indy 300 in Brazil. Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO has stated that the series will focus on its North American races as recently as the end of the 2021 season. IndyCar has also expressed some reservations about opening or ending the season with international races and it is difficult to pack up the entire series and airmail it to an overseas destination mid-season. Yet, with IndyCar's growing popularity in North America and beyond, perhaps it's time for IndyCar officials to rethink expanding the championship, and potential financial bonanza for its teams, by adding a full-fledged fly-away event or two to the annual schedule.
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