Opinion: Why IndyCar Was Right To Postpone Race 1 In Toronto

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Trying to find the six cars in this picture from behind the pace car Saturday afternoon gives you an idea of how difficult the conditions were. (Photo-Meesh Beer/Pit2Podium Photography).

 
By: Mike Sullivan/RaceCanada.ca 
July 23, 2014 
 
 
There has been a lot of debate and discussion over whether or not IndyCar should have postponed race 1 Saturday night at the Honda Indy Toronto. Many fans, some of the driver's and even Racer Magazine's Robin Miller weighed in saying they should race. This was also the prevalent opinion on social media Saturday afternoon as well.
 
Make no mistake, I would loved to have seen them race, and originally thought they should have. I've raced in the rain a lot in the past and, in my opinion, there is nothing better than racing in the wet. But, ultimately, the series made the right choice to try to squeeze in two races on Sunday and hope for better weather instead of rolling the dice on Saturday night.
 
First of all, racing in the rain to simply say "we race in the rain" is a dumb reason to race in the rain.
 
If the visibility and grip in one of the few truly good passing zones, turn 3, is such that you can't see the car you are following and can't go off line to make a pass, what's the point? You simply end up with a train of race cars, strung far enough apart so that they can actually see the coming corner, trying desperately to not hit anything or anyone. When the conditions are this bad, too often the winner is the biggest beneficiary of the most luck.
 
In the press conference after the Stadium Truck race, Robby Gordon volunteered his thoughts that, should the Indy Car race start, there will be carnage into turn 3 on the first lap. Gordon has been around a while and raced just about everything under the sun. Including IndyCar's at Toronto. Unlike most of those on social media or us in the media centre, Gordon was just out out on the track. Better than any of us at that point, he knew what the conditions were like. What reason would Robby Gordon have to exaggerate about the conditions?
 
We then watched the pace car sail off at the end of Lakeshore Blvd with 2-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk at the wheel, as well as Will Power get caught off guard with the turbo spooling up, and sending him into the wall before the green flag. Will Power is a pretty good race car driver. How many more cars would have gone off in the race, if it went green? The conditions were clearly as bad as IndyCar claimed they were.
 
As well, the race would almost certainly have spent a great deal of time under yellow and it would have likely run out of time before it ran out of laps. All the while, towing wrecked race cars back to the paddock.
 
Which bring us to the ultimate reason, I believe, for postponement was, even if safety was the reason given most often.
 
After the inevitable crash fest in a Saturday race, who knows how many cars would have made it out for the grid on Sunday. I wonder what the hue and cry would have been had the race run on Saturday, half of it under yellow, and only 15 or 16 cars able to take the green flag on Sunday? Maybe everybody would have made the grid, but maybe not. I don't think it was a chance worth taking.
 
The IndyCar Series, while on the upswing in many ways, is still not a series flush with cash. To ring up up several hundred thousand dollars worth of parts bills, or more, to complete a single race weekend is an unfair burden to saddle the owners with, especially the smaller ones.
 
Pushing the crews to spend the night rebuilding wrecked race cars on an already difficult double-header weekend would also have been too much to ask.
 
If pushed into a position like this, perhaps next year the teams would veto the idea of doing double-headers and I think everybody would agree that full-on points races on both Saturday and Sunday is good for the Honda Indy Toronto.
 
Of course we will always hear the usual refrain if they can't afford to be in the big leagues, if they can't rebuild their crashed race cars, then they shouldn't be there. In my experience this is almost always uttered by people who have never written a cheque for anything more than a grandstand ticket.
 
Sometimes discretion is the better part of valour, especially when the cheque book is involved. It just didn't make any sense to wreck a lot of race cars, run up a lot of parts bills and jeopardize the car count for the race the following day.
 
All of the fans who were out for Saturday's race were invited back for Sunday, we got to see a couple of pretty good races on Sunday, and perhaps, in race 2, a hint of what a race 1 run Saturday might of looked like. In an interesting note, Mikhail Aleshin, one of the two drivers Robin Miller quoted as wanting to race on Saturday made quite a mess of it in the rain on Sunday, the severity of his mistake turning James Hinchliffe's small mistake into a race-ender for all intents and purposes.
 
In the end, there really was only one sensible decision once the emotion and ego were stripped away, and IndyCar made that decision and as a result we had a great day of racing on Sunday.
 
Good on Indy Car.