IndyCar drivers ready to race on Indy road course

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Bourdais, Wilson and Tagliani believe that the idea of IndyCars racing on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a good idea.

While the IZOD IndyCar Series competitors had an off weekend, Sebastian Bourdais, Justin Wilson and Alex Tagliani took advantage of the lull in action to race in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series finale at Lime Rock Park.

Bourdais and Wilson were in Daytona Prototypes and Tagliani in a GT-class Ferrari. Bourdais raced for 8 Star Motorports, Wilson for Michael Shank Racing and Tagliani for R.Ferri/Aim Motorsports.

Sébastien Bourdais, Dragon Racing Chevrolet
Sébastien Bourdais, Dragon Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher

Regarding the newly announced IndyCar race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, the three drivers were eager for it to happen. “I have heard everyone’s reactions, but I can see why IndyCar is doing that after losing a couple of venues,” Bourdais said. “IMS owns the track, so it doesn’t cost them anything to run it. If it works out, great; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

Bourdais has raced on the road course in a Daytona Prototype and believes IndyCars will be able to do a lot of passing. “Our cars in street-course configuration draft very well, so it will be a pass fest,” he noted. “The track isn’t the most exciting but it does allow for sensible racing.” He doesn’t care which direction they run the race, but believes the MotoGP course will reduce the passing opportunities. “Except for a couple of minor changes, I would leave the present course alone. If they could make it more challenging, that would be OK.”

The French native relishes the challenge and while he believes opinions are worthwhile, the final decisions should be made by IMS management as they have a better grasp of the situation than others do. “If you have the conviction and believe it is the right thing to do, then do it. They have to decide what they want to do and stick to their vision. That’s called leadership.”

Justin Wilson, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Justin Wilson, Dale Coyne Racing Honda

Photo by: John Cote

Wilson raced once on the IMS road course 10 years ago in Formula One (scoring his only career F1 point), and he believes an IndyCar road race should be done. “It is not the most exciting track in the world, but it should produce a great race,” he commented. “The competition level is so intense, it should work and should be a hard-fought race,” going on to say that by using turn 1 Indy fans would benefit from the seating capacity and the view. He also believes that there will be portions of the course where it will be difficult to pass.

He also thought a road race would be a good way to kick-off the month of May activities at Indianapolis. “It has the ability to create something special and should produce a lot of excitement going into the month.” According to the well-spoken driver, he didn’t think the additional race would put additional pressure on the teams. Given the economic climate, his biggest concern was over the pricing of tickets, to make them affordable and not detract from fan turnout for the Indianapolis 500.

Having it on the road course at Indy, the guys should have fun.

Alex Tagliani

Tagliani, the 2011 Indianapolis 500 pole winner, has never raced on the IMS road course but believes it should be done. “I love racing on road courses and the more races the better,” he said. “Having it on the road course at Indy, the guys should have fun. Another point is should we race something else other than the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis? It will be up to the fans to decide if it is going to take away from the specialness of Indianapolis.”

At this time, he’s in the beginning stage of a sports-car competitor and is weighing his options for 2014 – IndyCar Series or the new United SportsCar Racing organization. “I am looking at opportunities to race at Indy in May and possibly a full season. I am in discussions with several teams at this point, but the Indianapolis 500 will always be a race I will want to do.”

At one point in time, the Indianapolis 500 was the only race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and when NASCAR arrived on the scene, there was considerable controversy surrounding the expanded schedule. Status quo is no longer acceptable and changes often work out well, so a road race at IMS may well prove to be a winner. Regardless, the subject will make for interesting discussion over the winter months. And the more hype the subject gets, ticket sales also tend to grow.

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Series INDYCAR
Article type Commentary
Tags bourdais, ims road course, indianapolis, indycar, tagliani, wilson