Is It Really Bye-Bye to IndyCar Racing in Houston?
There were two IndyCar races in Houston this past June. The races were run on a course laid out around the NRG Park parking lot with NRG Stadium and the Astrodome looming large in the background. The track was bumpy and dangerous. The first day saw racing in the rain, the second day saw racing during the extreme heat of a Houston summer afternoon.
Is IndyCar through with Houston?
This was the second year of the IndyCar series' return to Houston. And according to reports, it appears that IndyCar will not be returning to Houston for a third straight year. Because, apparently, running a car race on a stadium parking lot in the middle of the day in the summer in Houston isn't popular with the crowds.
If so, the IndyCar series in Houston was probably doomed the moment that IndyCar decided to end its season at the end of August. With the series running at overseas sites to start the season, there was just no place in the schedule to hold an event in Houston that made sense if the comfort of the drivers and spectators was to be taken into account. (IndyCar is going to New Orleans for a race in early April next season, which would seem good for Houston, but with NRG Stadium hosting the NCAA Men's Basketball Regional at the end of March, there probably wouldn't be enough time for track set-up).
These reports claiming the race will not run in 2015 did state there was a chance of a return in 2016 with the likely course being strewn about the runways of Ellington Field (a report from NBC Sports Net prior to last Sunday's race also said NRG Park was still a possibility). While Ellington Field might make for a decent course -- it can't be worse than that bumpy disaster at NRG Stadium -- it'd probably make for a disaster for fans trying to get to the place. Any person who makes the drive down the Gulf Freeway to Galveston knows the freeway becomes the equivalent of a parking lot around the exits leading to Ellington on normal days, and parking's not exactly abundant, though if the field can accommodate all the visitors from Wings Over Houston, it can probably find a way to handle the crowd for a car race.
But odds are that the IndyCar series is probably through with Houston. It already races on the Texas Speedway oval, and then there's that expensive, brand-new road course outside of Austin. The course already hosts Formula One every October, and adding IndyCar would be a nice coup.