IMSA President and COO Scott Atherton has targeted the release of the 2016 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule for next month, with no major changes expected in the number of events or venues.
“The goal is to hit a similar mark as we did last year, as far as the timing,” Atherton told Sportscar365. “I can’t say today we’re going to hit it but every effort will be made.”
This schedule for this year’s 12-event, 10-round season was released during the Road America weekend in 2014, with a stakeholder’s meeting again planned for competitors during the Aug. 7-9 event.
Atherton expects a similar-sized schedule for 2015, although there are still some contracts with events that are in the process of being finalized.
“We’ve got a small number of renewals,” he said. “When we went through the merger process and aligned our sanctioning agreements, by design, we staggered them so we wouldn’t have the entire lot come due for renewal at the same time.
“Everyone we’re currently working with has indicated a desire to continue. We have others that have indicated a strong interest in having a TUDOR Championship weekend.
“Once again we’re being very cautious in that way to keep our teams and our own budgets in line with capabilities.”
Changes will likely be made to the scheduling, as many key motorsports events, such as the Indianapolis 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans, occur one week later in the 2016 calendar, which has forced IMSA to adjust accordingly.
Atherton said there could also be adjustments to the class structure at some events, although it won’t necessarily be in reaction to the reduced overall car count the series has faced this year.
“In some examples yes, but not all,” he said. “In some cases, the scheduling and division of categories on each weekend is dictated by extraneous circumstances.
“Detroit, in making sure our GTLM competitors have the opportunity to be at Le Mans for the test day, those things dictate that.
“We made a commitment last year to reduce the overall race count by one. This year we have 12 weekends, ten events for each class.
“Ideally, we’d like to keep a similar mix. In doing so, that in itself implies that there will be some weekends where everyone’s together and others not.
“I can’t sit here and say today that we know exactly where each class is going to be on each weekend because there’s multiple moving parts we still haven’t worked through. It’s a bit early to be locking down on that.”
As for the potential addition of new events, Atherton admitted a continued high level of interest, although no major changes are planned for 2016, in order to focus on cost containment.
“It’s tempting because we do have interest from other promoters, other markets, other venues that if budget wasn’t a consideration, overall event counts, we could add weekends to our schedule without hesitation,” he said. “But right now that’s not our plan or goal.”