He makes some good points.
In adding Circuit of The Americas to its calendar, IndyCar will need to succeed where other domestic series have failed. Outside of the big traveling crowds that flood the Austin, Texas-based road course for Formula 1 and MotoGP, the sprawling countryside property has struggled to draw the tiniest of crowds for other series.
The Pirelli World Challenge series puts on incredible races, but has resigned itself to performing in front of family and friends during its visits to COTA. Monsoon rains have blighted things on more than one occasion in March for PWC at COTA, and with the series returning next year on the first weekend of March, we know there’s no chance of an IndyCar/PWC doubleheader to try and draw more fans.
Even the world’s biggest sports car series have tried and failed to build a following at COTA. With the awesome “Lone Star Le Mans” endurance combo event of IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship, which included free music and entertainment between the main features in its final iteration, it was a hot, steamy ghost town. Australia’s V8 Supercars also made the trip from Down Under in search of an international home at COTA. Despite having multi-year plans for Texas, the V8s made one appearance and were one-and-done.
The 'crowd optics' aspect of the article was a bit overstated imho. COTA's seating isn't anything remotely like that of a superspeedway. COTA seats something like 1/4 of the number of fans that TMS seats, for example (less than 1/3 even if TMS closes their back stretch).
COTA has cut F1 seating there by about half over the years since opening, from around 80k to around 40k. They've only ever had about 35-40k seats for other race series, since they don;t erect temporary grandstands for those races.
For IndyCar, I'm guessing they'll use the same setup they typically use when F1 isn't in town. That is, they'll probably only use the permanent grandstands -- the Main Grandstand, Turn 1, 12, and 15. They don't bother to set up T4 & 9 for MotoGP, & they probably won't for IndyCar either, exactly for reasons like 'optics'. Pretty sure that leaves about 35k seats.
Drop 75,000 fans into TMS? You have 40k+ empty seats and it looks like a disaster.
Put 75,000 fans at COTA, and your 35,000 ish grandstand seats will be pretty much full, with a nice general admission crowd on the ground. It would be hailed as a massive success.
If there's actually a good crowd, it's going to look good on TV in multiple grandstands. If it doesn't look good, it'll be because it isn't good.
Edited by AustinF1, 05 September 2018 - 07:09.