Would Moving Brazil Bring More Sponsorship?
I was looking at the upcoming schedule for the IZOD IndyCar Series this weekend and was looking at the placement of the race in São Paulo. It occurred to me that where it lands on the schedule might make it difficult for those drivers seeking funding for the full schedule.
I remember a couple of years ago, there was a driver whose name escapes me that turned down a ride before the season started because a potential sponsor wanted to fund the Indianapolis 500 and go from there. Said driver turned down the offer because he wanted to run the full season, which was certainly understandable. As it turned out, the driver never found anything and the potential sponsor went away completely.
I was wondering over the weekend, if any drivers are currently facing such a dilemma. From a company’s point of view, you can certainly understand their rationale. They see the Indianapolis 500 as being the biggest splash, but they can ride that wave through the rest of the season without dealing with what they see as the preliminary races leading up to it. The biggest hurdle they would be avoiding is that they wouldn’t have to fund a trip to Brazil.
I am not advocating removing São Paulo from the schedule. It is way too important, not only to the many Brazilian drivers in the series, but also to one of the most important sponsors in the series – ApexBrasil. I’m not sure people realize what a vital sponsor ApexBrasil is to the series, both in a monetary sense and the international visibility they bring to the series. If packing the series up and shipping it to Brazil once a year keeps them happy, then I’m all for it.
What I’m wondering though, is how difficult would it be to move the race to a later date? The weather has been an issue in late April and early May, but the main problem could be its proximity to the Indianapolis 500. Many US sponsors have no business interests in Brazil. There is no tangible benefit that they see in going to another continent where they have no customers, when the Indianapolis 500 and all of its visibility is just three weeks later. It’s a good argument to skip the first quarter of the season, gear up for Indianapolis and then see what happens after that.
Personally, I don’t buy that line of corporate thinking. Don’t get me wrong – I follow the entire season very closely. But I probably pay more attention to the intricacies of the first part of the season before Indianapolis, than I do the races after the 500. We’ll be ending a six month drought when the green flag drops in St. Petersburg. I’ll be in attendance at Barber and Long Beach is a race that garners much attention.
After Indianapolis, the other races don’t seem as important and all sort of run together, before the season limps to a close with two races a month apart.
If the São Paulo race could somehow be moved to August or September, that could get rid of that argument for a lot of drivers struggling for funding. If an oval could slide into the late April early May slot on the schedule, that would be even better. I’ve always thought that having an oval leading up to the Indianapolis 500 could be beneficial in so many ways. It helps the teams and drivers get better prepared for oval racing. It also gets the fans more amped up leading into the month of May.
When the series races this season at São Paulo on May 5th, it will be late fall in Brazil. The average May temperature in São Paulo is 73° F, while there are an average of nine days in May with precipitation. In the past, the series has bucked the odds because they have encountered rain more times than not in São Paulo. By the time August rolls around, it will be approaching springtime in Brazil. The average August temperature there is 73.9° F, with only an average of seven days of precipitation. That’s not a huge difference in temperature, but it gives the series better odds on having a dry racetrack in August. September’s climate in São Paulo practically mirrors that of May
I’ve never done it, but I would imagine the trip to Brazil is draining on the teams and the officials in the series. All the cars, engines, tires, tools, spare parts and all of the equipment must be boxed up for shipment and loaded onto two 747’s more than a week before the race. Then it all has to be boxed up, shipped back, uncrated and possibly repaired all before Opening Day at Indianapolis just one week after the São Paulo race. That’s a pretty tall order, considering this compacted schedule is just before the biggest race of the year. Do you really want to have all of the participants of the Indianapolis 500 exhausted on Opening Day? That’s a day when everyone involved should be full of excitement, optimism and energy – not dragging from jet lag.
I don’t pretend to know what else is going on in Brazil during the year. Lately, the Formula One race at Interlagos has taken place in late November, although in the early nineties it was in late March. I know that Carnaval in São Paulo is a major culturally national event, but that takes place in early February this year. I do know that the current IZOD IndyCar Series schedule has two races in August with a three week gap in between and then only one race in September with over a month’s gap before the season finale in October.
If it were possible for future schedules, I’d like to see the São Paulo race moved to sometime in August or September. August would be better weather there, but it could certainly fill the September void in the current schedule. While I’m playing with hypothetical situations, let’s find an oval to add into the late April to early May slot. Maybe Phoenix?
It’s unlikely that the Brazil race can be moved. It sounds too simple. I’m sure there are those much smarter than me that have already looked at all scenarios and figured that where it is currently is the best or only spot on the calendar it could be. But I cannot help but think that having an international race just before the 500, gives potential sponsors an easy out from the first part of the season. Perhaps the powers that be should remove that hurdle from drivers seeking sponsorship.