One would think with the end of the season on September 22, IndyCar would go into hibernation until the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March, but the news flow had other plans.
Fan favorites James Hinchcliffe and Sébastien Bourdais no longer have rides in the IndyCar series at this time. However one thing bigger than most, Roger Penske bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the IndyCar Series, and IMS Productions. This is the biggest news for the series since the merger in 2008.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Penske has more than just racing teams; he has car dealerships, Truck rentals, and has been successful in almost everything he has tried. Now he owns the series and has been given wholehearted approval among the owners in the series.
What lies ahead for the future of the series? Penske has indicated that he wants to get a list of top-10 priorities together to see what needs to be done to help all the properties he has just purchased. We’ll see what those are before too long, but this is the best shot in the arm the series has has for a long time. With all due respect to the Hulmans, the previous owners of IMS and IndyCar, Penske has the capital and connections to make the improvements needed to these properties.
While we wait to see what Penske does to his newest acquisitions, we’re also waiting to see Hinchcliffe is going to do. The writing was on the wall for his time at the now named Arrow-McLaren-Schmidt-Peterson Racing once they went to Chevy and apparently for Hinchcliffe’s appearance in the ESPN body issue. He had funding from Honda Canada and has a few personal sponsors, but it appears at this time they’re not enough for a full season, otherwise another Honda team would probably pick him up. He’d need at least six-to-eight million dollars to help fund a prospective team.
The most recent news is that Bourdais will no longer have his ride at Dale Coyne Racing. Unlike Hinchcliffe, whose future is very much in flux, Bourdais does have plans for next year as he will be driving in IMSA in the Cadillac for the JDC-Mustang Sampling Racing team. This doesn’t preclude any possible part-time racing in IndyCar or other sportscar racing. With Peugeot returning to prototype racing in the next year, could he return for overall victory at Le Mans?
Even with two popular drivers not having full-time rides, the IndyCar Series has a lot optimism going into next year and beyond. When the season kicks off on March 15, maybe we’ll have a clearer idea of what the season will entail.