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Indy: A May intrusion

Look, I'm not one of Those Guys. In fact, when Tony George opened the gates to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and invited in NASCAR, I made fun of Those Guys -- i.e., the people who thought letting NASCAR track mud and tobacco juice all over the carpet of the Mecca of Speed was a violation of some sacred trust.

Not me. I welcomed it. Thought it would take some getting used to, but considered it a logical progression for what was then becoming the monster of American motorsports.

This, however ...

I don't know. I just don't know.

And it's not because they're clearly fast-tracking it. It's because I think adding an IndyCar race on the IMS road course in the same month as the Indianapolis 500 dilutes the impact of both.

I'm still old school enough to think May should belong to the 500 and the 500 only, even as I get that May isn't what May used to be. It's down to two weekends now, and there's basically only one day (Race Day) when the fans come out. And they do still come out on Race Day, in fact moreso the last two years than I've seen in two decades.

But an IndyCar race at the same venue in the same month?

The idea here is to get more fans into the place in May, and it's a good one. But I question whether it's worth dialing down the sense of occasion. Part of the appeal of the 500, other than it's the biggest motorsports event in the world, is the buildup to the event. It's always been uinque to Indy -- and that aspect is still there, even if it's down to two weeks instead of a solid month.

But if you take the same drivers and the same cars and have them run a second race in that same time period, the uniqueness is gone. The Greatest Spectacle In Racing, Period, becomes the Greatest Spectacle In Racing, Part II. And the road race, which I actually think is a terrific idea (even more so if NASCAR would do it in late July, given that the oval race more years than not has been a complete bust), gets relegated to little more than a warmup act for the 500.

I can't think of any racing series anywhere that runs two races in the same venue in one month, even series that schedule multiple races in those venues during a single season. Quite properly, each race is allowed to have its own identity.

That ought to go double at IMS. And so, sure, bring on an IndyCar road race there.

But bring it on in, say, September.

Ben Smith's blog.