"Dual" road racing weekends? More please.

Peter M. De Lorenzo is a national columnist who founded, a highly-regarded website devoted to news, commentary and analysis of the auto industry. He is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the business today.Next weekend the American Le Mans Series and the IZOD IndyCar Series take their respective shows to the streets of Long Beach for the annual road racing happening in Southern California. Part logistical reality and part Marketing 101 in this economically distressed world we live in today — as in giving road racing fans more bang for their bucks — having the two major racing series outside of NASCAR combine for these “dual” weekends makes a lot of sense, so much so that I can’t figure out why they don’t do more of it.

I think the hoary argument that one series is naturally relegated to second fiddle on these dual racing weekends is pure bullshit by the way. It’s two alternative styles of racing presented as a showcase for racing fans hungry for something different (as in something other than NASCAR). Sports prototypes and premier GT class machines on one day of the racing weekend and this country’s major league open-wheel racing series on the next gives everyone more of what they want. That means track promoters, sponsors and most important, the fans who have been loyal to the sport of road racing for years and years get more of what they’re looking for, which to me is the main driving force behind staging these “double-header” weekends.

I would stage these dual ALMS/IndyCar weekends whenever and wherever I could. And promoting more of these showcase weekends would do wonders for the sport and on so many levels too.

And the most glaring opportunity on the racing calendar to stage another one of these road racing showcase weekends? That’s easy, the August date for the ALMS at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. “America’s National Park of Speed” is a natural fit for IndyCar to dual with the ALMS on that weekend, especially given the fact that the ALMS always runs their race on Saturday afternoon. And given Road America’s long history of showcasing this country’s premier road racing series from the very beginning, including the glory days of the USRRC, Can-Am, Trans-Am, Formula 5000, CART, Champ Car and the ALMS, IndyCar definitely needs to be there racing on that August weekend.

I know that Randy Bernard has heard this from a lot of people besides me since he took the reins of IndyCar. And I know he’s looking at adding Road America back on the IndyCar schedule, so I hope logic and reason — and the fact that IndyCars need to be back at America’s premier road racing circuit — win out and we see IndyCar teamed with the ALMS in August of 2012.

It would be a spectacular show.

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