Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Should IndyCar and Super Formula unify technical regulations?

I have seen some interesting tweets by @4TheLoveOfIndy suggesting IndyCar having common technical regulations with Japanese Super Formula, following the success of global GT3 rules. I agree with him and have also been thinking about that. Another example from sports cars is LMP2 and LMGTE regulations being used besides the WEC also in regonal series and there are entrants from those regional series at Le Mans. Another example is German DTM and Japanese Super GT unifying their regulations.

But why not doing the same in open-wheel racing? Of course, a major difference is that IndyCar has ovals besides road and street courses, Super Formula has only road courses, so there are different requirements for these cars. But still, the Indy car must be suitable also for road courses.

I think this would have benefits for both series. With more potential customers for the IndyCar/Super Formula engines, we might see more engine manufacturers. Maybe this could bring Toyota back to IndyCar as they are already in Super Formula. And maybe that could enable the series open the chassis regulations, as both currently have a spec chassis. With over 40 cars, they could afford multiple chassis manufacturers.

One of his tweets was about how those Super Formula teams could do the Indy 500 and there would be bumping. I really like that idea. I feel that would help promoting both series. The Indy 500 and the IndyCar Series would get exposure in Japan, even with no own race there. And Super Formula might get some American audience when the drivers become more familiar. Think about a race in Japan on Sunday at 2pm. It's Saturday evening 9pm PST/10pm PDT or 12am EST/1am EDT. A bit late on East Coast but not quite so bad on Saturday evening.  That's why I think it is the Asia-Pacific region where IndyCar should go if they want to have races outside the Americas and promote the Series there; in some parts of the home market USA, the races would even be at prime time on Saturday. But if Super Formula adopted common technical regulations and race at the Indy 500, they would market the 500 in Japan on behalf of the IndyCar. And it is not like they would be a rival for IndyCar, rather a partner series who come to race at the 500. And if this helped IndyCar to gain popularity in Japan, there would be a logical overseas race in Japan. If not a combined race, then imagine a Super Formula-IndyCar doubleheader at Motegi: IndyCar on the oval and Super Formula on the road course or maybe even on the oval.

All in all, I'd like the idea of another series adopting the IndyCar rules and then participating the Indy 500. With an existing strong series like Super Formula that would be easier. Using the same cars in multiple series would also make those series more attractive to manufacturers.