March 13 - Brazil
April 17 - Long Beach
April 10 - Barber
April 30/May 1 or May 7/8 - These are open dates before the opening of practice for the Indy 500, assuming the Speedway sticks with the single week format for practice and qualifications. Although it hasn't been mentioned much, Atlanta is my wild card race for one of these weekends. In my opinion, an oval should be run before Indy and Atlanta is a logical warm weather venue. However, Milwaukee could end up here instead of the traditional date immediately after the 500, although spring weather is iffy at best and I think an August date makes more sense - more on that in a minute. Fontana could also slot in here but perhaps having two open weekends prior to the start of practice would be good for the teams to recharge and get ready for the busy summer months.
May 29 - Indy 500: 100 years since the first Indy 500 was run!
June 11 - Texas Twin 275's. Texas always puts on a great show and having two points paying races on the same night is an idea whose time has come. It could allow someone who crashes out of the first race the chance to race again with a backup car. While they are at it, why not invert the start of the second race from the finishing order of the first race?
June 19 - Iowa. This would wrap up a month long stretch of oval races. The bunching of similar races is a great move economically so the teams aren't switching back and forth from road course to oval setups so often.
July 3 - This is another wild card weekend with the Independence Day holiday open now that Watkins Glen has gone by the wayside. Mid Ohio or Infineon could go here and start a stretch of road course events.
July 17- Toronto: the start of the Canadian swing.
July 24 - Edmonton. Back to ovals for the next two races.
August 7 - Milwaukee. This is where I think this event fits best, as it is during the Wisconsin State Fair and could be a headline attraction and help the gate immensely. The promoters also then probably have a partner in State government to help promote the race - important since the past promoters have had "issues".
August 14 - New Hampshire. Another flat mile oval, but the first time for Indycars on the newer mildly progressive banking. Now back to road courses.
August 21 - Mid Ohio or Infineon. This has been the Infineon weekend the past few years but Mid Ohio has to go somewhere if Milwaukee gets the date in early August. I'd prefer Mid Ohio here for travel logistics for the teams and it is close to where the race has been run in the past. Keeping ALMS or getting the Rolex Series as companion race events at Mid Ohio would be a bonus.
Sept 4 - Labor Day - Baltimore. A new street circuit which caused Kentucky to be moved, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Sept 17/18 - Motegi. Honda must have this race and the Indycars need to race in Japan to pay them back for their support of the series.
Oct 2- Kentucky. This date was announced last weekend at Kentucky and it will no longer be a night race, which is a shame as the showers of sparks will not be nearly as spectacular in the daylight. Fall weather could be an issue however.
Oct 16 - Vegas/Fontana. Bernard has already stated he would like to finish in Las Vegas so they can wine and dine the sponsors and have the season ending awards banquet in style. This would fit with the idea that Indycars are "sexy" again and what better place that "Lost Wages" to show that off. I seriously doubt that Fontana will make the grade and it would seem to just be leverage for the series to get what they want from Vegas.
Enough about the schedule. Here are a couple of other ideas I have to spice up the Series. Set an all star sprint race with one pit stop for all race and pole winners. This would be a made for TV non-points event on an oval. It needs a sponsor so go after Venom, Monster or one of the other energy drinks to get behind this with a big payoff for the winner. These cars will be obsolete after 2011 anyway so why not have this at Vegas after the championship has been decided?
Next, figure out a way to award extra points toward the season championship for every driver that makes the Fast 6 (or Fast 9 at Indy) in qualifying. Now every qualifying session becomes meaningful for a driver's (and team's) season totals.
Finally, award bonus points in the overall season standings for the driver(s) who win the Andretti road course and Foyt oval championships. It wouldn't have to be much, but this could be an added incentive and make the overall season championship even more interesting with the road course title wrapping up in Baltimore.
I'm looking forward to Friday's formal schedule announcement to see if any of my speculation is on target. Even if not, at least I'll know what I need for making my travel plans for 2011.