Programming note: This article is old and incorrect. An updated list can be found here.
It may only be October, but it’s never too early to start thinking about silly season in indycar world. Without the post-Vegas fallout to contend with this year, silly season has picked up steam much earlier this year than in 2011. The drivers market is healthy, but sponsorship dollars are very hard to come by. As with 2011, the number of seats will be set by the engine manufacturers, and I hope they are a bit more generous this year even with the exit of Lotus.
I have broken the teams into three categories: Team Honda, Team Chevy and possible or unaffiliated teams. As always, there is talk of adding a second seat at many of the single car teams, and Honda seems very keen to pair up any one car operations in a bid for more information sharing and ultimately more success.
Ed Carpenter Racing has been back and forth about merging with another Chevy team, with KV Racing and HVM as the opined teams of choice for such a merge. However, KVRT has lost nearly all of its former glory and have even been linked with a switch from Chevy to Honda.
With the possibility of Penske and Ganassi Deux losing a seat for 2013, this opens the door for current and possible team owners to snag one of the freed engine leases. I have the feeling that Honda and Chevy are not too hot on adding additional leases unless the deal is right. The manufacturers are losing money on every signed lease, and I can understand why they wouldn’t just give their engines out to any ‘ol teams wanting to take a crack at indycar racing.
|AJ F E||Honda||?|
Beleaguered HVM Racing has a sponsorship contract and Simona signed on for 2013, but does not have an engine contract to replace the terribly underperforming Lotus engine. Lotus as a whole has not officially pulled out of the series yet. I have no Idea what this could mean for the series or HVM.
Dragon Racing, the team granted leaders circle money and an engine on the strength of their “web impressions”, yet do not have an active website currently. Not to mention, team owner Jay Penske has been in some legal troubles recently. If they show up on the 2013 grid, I don’t think Legge will be with them.
Michael Shank’s dream of running a full season indycar program rustles to life again with the hopes of finally acquiring one of the mystical engine leases. The remaining five teams have all been linked with American open-wheel racing or have expressed an interest in competing in the series. Information of the state of said programs is impossible to come by at this point.
Unaffiliated and possible new entries
|(Fan Force United)||?||(?)|
Finally, we have 33 drivers who either drove in the series or Indy 500 in 2012 and have no contract for 2013, or have been on record with an interest with competing in the series. I am shocked at how many drivers comprise this list, and there are surely more to add yet. Whether the length of this list is an indication of how hard it is to find cash to run, or if it is credence to the hope that indycar is seen as top-level outside of our biased bubble is hard to tell. But there is a literal ton of talent on this list and if we see all of the free agents return plus a few new guys, then 2013 could be very fun to watch.
|Barrichello||Free agent. Linked with SSHM|
|Briscoe||Free agent. Would take Penske 3rd seat with funding|
|Rahal||Free agent. Linked with RLLR|
|Sato||Free agent. Ran for RLLR in 2012, no contract for 2013|
|Servia||Free agent. Ran for DRR in 2012, no contract for 2013|
|Tagliani||Free agent. Ran for BHA in 2012, no contract for 2013|
|Viso||Free agent. Start his own team?|
|Wilson||Free agent. Ran for DCR in 2012, no contract for 2013|
|Bourdais||Signed with Dragon for 2013, is team still viable?|
|Legge||TrueCar money in hand, will probably not return to Dragon|
|Saavedera||Linked with AFS Racing and AA|
|Beatriz||Linked with AA|
|Austin||500 only, confirmed for AJ F E|
|Vautier||Indy Lights champion and scholarship winner|
|Howard||Continually linked with MSR indy|
|Mann||One of these days…|
|Guerrieri||Linked with KVRT for 2 years|
|Lloyd||Persuing a career as a writer?|
|Schecker||Making noise about something once again|
|Allmendinger||Back to NASCAR|
|Conway||No ovals, probably out|
|Alesi||nearly certain to not reprise his 500 attempt in 2013|
|Meira||On 2012 silly season list, no mentions for 2013|
|Yacaman||On 2012 silly season list, no mentions for 2013|
|Tracy||On 2012 silly season list, no mentions for 2013|
There we have it, at least 47 drivers competing for at most 28 full season seats in 2013. That number is huge, and if we could see 35 or so get a chance at the 500, the series would be in much better shape than in 2012. That is not to say that a 25/26 car field was paltry by any means, but with so much interest in the series, only good things can happen. Next week, a new tab will appear in the menu above so we can track the silly season shifts until the green flag finally dropped in St. Petersburg next March.