FIL & ICS Together?

With the weekend off in the Indycar series, I know alot of Indycar fans were searching hard for something fast to watch. I know alot of the bloggers and fans on Twitter were watching the ALMS race at Lime Rock on Sunday, we even had a blogger attend the event who produced some nice news on the ALMS teams to ICS for 2010 in guest writer for MyNameIsIRL, Declan Brennan.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to talk about IRL news and notes, rumors, and to discuss major topics Indycar fans were talking about. And this past weekend, one of the things I saw alot of people discuss on Twitter and some forums was running the Firestone Indy Lights and Indycar Series together during races, a la ALMS. So now, I shall provide my opinion on this subject for you lucky readers.

First of all, this would provide a high level of excitement, just as it does in the ALMS. It would provide plenty of passing between classes, and would add some slower traffic to create dramatic passing opportunities. Watching two prototypes in the ALMS battling for the lead coming up on a couple of GT2 cars adds a little suspense to the race. That could of course translate to excitement and drama in the IRL as well.

On top of all of that, with the decent ICS car count, but a diminishing FIL car count, it would definately fill the track up and put about 40 cars on track. It would give the appearance that the fields are much larger and would give the fans at the track action all the time. That can't be a negative, even if the track gets a little crowded.

Running the FIL cars with the IRL cars would add the sponsorship value for the Lights as they would get a hell of a lot more exposure for the races. Running with the big boys can only help the exposure and bring in more money through sponsorship and butts in the seats.

Of course, this could only work on the road and street courses as the speeds on the ovals would just be too different. I wouldn't want Mario Moraes trying to get three wide with 2 Indy Lights cars at Kentucky Speedway. I love Mario, but I don't trust him to run 2 wide with another IRL car (ask Marco about that) and the rate of closing speed on an oval would be way too high.

Even in the ALMS, some of the prototype drivers complain about the skill level of the GT guys and their ability to get out of the way. They also think the rate of closing is too great even on road courses. Think about it in the IRL. The FIL is a development series for the ICS, where as the GT categories in ALMS are not a development series. The talent gap between FIL and ICS must be much greater then the gap between the prototypes and GT cars. Add to that, the fact that the ALMS runs fenders and closed wheels, if an inexperienced GT driver happens to get into the side of a prototype, it may cost the P1/P2 car a bit of time a bit of damage, but that is it. If you get an inexperienced FIL driver locking wheels with Scott Dixon, you have the potential for an airborn Dallara and a high risk of injury. Sure, racing is dangerous, but, we do the best we can to lower the danger, and FIL with ICS isn't a good idea for safety.

On top of all that, the FIL cars would have to be redesigned to either accept a much larger fuel cell or to accept in-race refueling, which would mean adding a bunch of members to the team, adding salaries which would boost up the budget for a FIL team. That would defeat the purpose of a low cost training grounds for a bunch of young guns trying to move up the ICS. And if you want to do pitstops for the FIL cars, you have to find a hell of a lot more pit boxes.

Take away the FIL race, and you're searching for another support race. We are hurting for support races in the first place at most tracks, and losing the FIL race would hurt the race weekends even more.

Basically, I can't see how this would work. I think it would be very exciting to watch, but, the safety would overrule any positives we could pull out of it. I doubt there is any talk at all from the IRL's perspective of doing this anyway. Just the pure danger of touching wheels and getting airborn is what will shoot this idea down if anyone ever brings it up.

For those who brought it up, on paper it looks good, but once we get to the details, it just doesn't work out. Atleast people are thinking of ways to improve the product though, which we can't stop doing. It's our job to push the IRL to think and try new things which will increase the excitement and fun on race weekends.


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