The Clash at the Coliseum

Today’s question: The Clash at the Coliseum last Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum appeared to be a big success, with an interesting mix of racing and entertainment that NASCAR metrics indicated attracted a new audience to the sport. If the NTT INDYCAR SERIES staged a similar exhibition race, where you like to see it take place?

Arni Sribhen: Social media is full of fans who want more ovals or want the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to go back to Cleveland. Let’s make both groups happy by revisiting the idea for a 1.2-mile temporary oval at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland. For those unaware, during the Open Wheel Split, CART decided to leave the popular Cleveland Grand Prix off the 2000 schedule in a dispute with the event promoter over sanctioning fees. The Cleveland promoters approached and signed the INDYCAR SERIES as a replacement. But the INDYCAR SERIES was an all-oval series at the time, so the proposal had the 1.9-mile road course converted into a flat, 1.2-mile oval. Sadly, that July 2000 race never happened. The thing I liked about The Clash at the LA Coliseum was that it put an oval race in the heart of the city as if it was a street course event. There are not a lot of oval races that can say that these days (except for the ones held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway). So, let’s go to Cleveland!

Curt Cavin: Cleveland certainly rocks, and INDYCAR is long overdue to return to Burke Lakefront Airport, which hosted terrific races from 1982-2007. I’ve spent the past 24 hours trying to think of a better location for this answer, and I can’t come up with one except to say the series needs more warm-weather options for the spring. The Miami circuit being planned for Formula One would be intriguing if that race weekend wasn’t set for early May. It would be great if INDYCAR could race there in March, for example. I also had such high hopes for NOLA Motorsports Park in the New Orleans market, but that didn’t come together well in 2015. Now, if I’m dreaming, find a tropical location that looks great on TV. Aruba? Turks and Caicos? Remember that Hawaiian Super Prix that CART was to stage in November 1999? Something like that!

Paul Kelly: Curt is right: A spot that looks as good on TV as it races is important since an exhibition race is all about sizzle, pizazz and attracting new eyeballs to the sport. Can you imagine a street race on Kalakaua Avenue along Waikiki Beach and in the shadow of Diamond Head in Honolulu? Sure, the travel logistics and expense would be immense. But we’re talking a dream location, right? Honolulu would be fantastic. But here’s one more even dreamier location that never will happen and may raise some eyebrows: The Malecon in Havana. The broad esplanade in Cuba’s capital city runs along the shoreline of the Caribbean Sea, lined by aging, crumbling buildings with Spanish architecture. The ocean spray that dances above the sea wall and splatters the road at high tide could be a problem for driver visibility and tire choice, but the spectacle of racing along the blue-green waters of the Caribbean Sea would be tremendous, especially with the sleek INDYCAR SERIES machines providing a fantastic visual contrast to Cuba’s car culture, comprised of many carefully restored 1950s American cars due to the embargo. Yeah, I'm biased: I love Cuban music, food and cigars. The political differences between Cuba and the U.S. will keep this exhibition a fantasy, but it would be a spectacular site.