Reading this article the other day I see where once again the IROC series is in serious jeopardy of becoming a figment of our imaginations. Sometimes when in desperation, and I believe the IROC Series is in that present state, something off the wall, or out of the box thinking needs to be done in order to save the series. So here is what I would do.
First and foremost, there is no current sponsor for the series, and there is a reason for that. The series has quite frankly lost it's luster, even to the point of being boring at most tracks. Few, if any sponsors are going to fork out the cash needed to back the series in this state.
The driver choices:
It is no secret that the IROC is heavily dependent on Nascar, but that doesn't mean that the other series should be ignored to the point the have been recently. Along with Nascar, drivers from (in no particular order) other that series should submit entries include:
American Le Mans Series, ARCA, Champcar, IRL, National Hot Rod Association (yes, that's racing in a straight line), USAC Silver Crown Series, and the World of Outlaws sprint car racing. I am sure there are a few other series that I am missing, but the point is that the appeal for IROC is to not simply have a 'Nascar All-Star/Legends' race. The goal would be to have a 16 car field for each race.
The Race Venues:
Its pretty obvious some of the race venues need to be changed. Some venues, because of the nature of the tracks can become a follow the leader parade in just a handful of laps after a start or re-start. So if I was to be given any 6 racing venues in the country, here are the ones I would choose.
1) Daytona Road Course: Adding this race last season was a good move for IROC as it accomplished a couple of positive things. It gave the series a road course to run on, and one that is more fan friendly in terms of viewing/site lines then most road courses. Also because of the timing of Daytona, race fans are eager to watch as much racing as possible due to the winter lay-off.
2) Hickory Motor Speedway: This .36 mile flat oval would provide some nice racing action with a 16 car field while also providing exposure to the historic North Carolina race track. IROC has really never raced at such a small race track, and that would also add to the appeal. This race would be held in the middle of the week (probably Tuesday night) in order to ease possible scheduling conflicts.
3) Knoxville Raceway: Talk about a tough ticket! This semi banked 1/2 mile clay oval would be a huge draw, not only live, but on TeVee as well. IROC has previously never raced on dirt but it is time to break that rule. This would also be a mid-week race but depending on the scheduling could be closer to later in the week (Thursday night), bookending it with a regular race weekend in Knoxville.
4) Indianapolis Raceway Park Drag Strip: I told you that desperate action is needed to save this series and this is the premier one. But seeing IROC cars and especially the non NHRA drivers in a bracket elimination drag race(s) would be something worth seeing once a year. Also another mid-week, prime time race.
5) Talladega Superspeedway: A tradition in this series and a tradition because this 2.5 mile high banked tri-oval usually offers two and three racing that should not be discontinued.
6) Richmond International Speedway: A happy balance of speed and handling would cap of a nice finale for the series if schedules allowed. Even if not, this track seems to offer the best actual 'racing' in the series in recent years. Located in a part of the country that is convenient for race teams of most series.
Format of races: This also something that needs to changed a bit with the added venues. While in the past, IROC did have the 'time-outs' in order to not make pitting a factor and that is a good thing, but surely more can be done. Of course at the Drag Racing venue, a double elimination bracket racing format is really the only way to go. The dirt track race could also have a couple of heat races and even have a round or two of transfer races to the Feature. Both would add variety and appeal to the series.
ESPN or SPEED CHANNEL would jump at the chance to program this format as it is a refreshing twist on the age old question of just which series has the most skilled all-around drivers. Is it a tricked up format? Sure it is, but that is what might be needed in order to land that much needed Series Sponsor.