The Indianapolis Grand Prix?

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Some thoughts on the potential road race at Indianapolis next season.

I think it’s a great idea. There. I said it.

IndyCar wrapped up a test of the various configurations of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Seems like everyone has good things to say about the test and the prospects of a road race at ‘The Speedway.’ But we are only hearing from those involved with the test.

In my opinion, I think this is a great idea. Yep. Said it again.

The month of May at The Speedway is the definition of tradition. I have had the opportunity to experience it up close and incredibly personal. I was shooting the 2011 Indy 500, just one of dozens of memorable ‘500s the track has held. Tradition should be honored, but with the changing times maybe a little more...well...change wouldn’t hurt.

It’s no lie that the weeks leading up to the 500 has fallen in attendance. The testing used to be almost the entire month leading up to the big show, but it has been shortened both in the interest of cost savings for the teams, and the dismal attendance.

Things got better a handful of years ago when it was shortened, but it’s a far cry from the years when the cars were getting faster and faster, where the sound of the P.A. system screaming “new track record” was a constable bellow.

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo by: Chris Owens

Today though, the track is quiet during the week of testing. I suppose that the fact that most people with tickets to the track are working during the week. If the product is good enough then maybe those folks will work on getting a day or two off work to check out what is going on at the track.

Now, lets imagine the kickoff to May. The first week, instead of testing on the oval, and waiting another two weeks until pole day, why not let the cars loose on the road course, whatever configuration is most competitive on the first Wednesday of May.

With the road race slated for Sunday, bring in the support series for Saturday races. USF2000, the Formula Mazdas could run in the afternoon, after qualifying for the IndyCar race.

This puts us within two weeks of the slated date for the 98th Indy 500. You give teams five days of straight testing, with Rookie orientation in the morning of the Monday, to open to all cars all the way till Friday. Saturday is pole day, as per usual. Sunday is bump day. Monday is an off day. Turns out as much as us racing fans think, these teams, and track workers, volunteers alike do need time off.

It’s basically the same schedule, but with another race at The Speedway dropped into it.

This gives fans something brand new in the early part of May. I have heard from a lot of fans, some loving the idea but the purists hating the idea.

What can go wrong though? It’s almost a guarantee that more people in Indianapolis will show up for a road course race than many of the test days combined. For sanctioning bodies, one of their goals is to make money to ensure their product’s longevity. Making money and adding a race at a historic venue? Seems good to me.

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Series INDYCAR
Article type Commentary
Tags hinchcliffe, indy, indy 500, indycar, newgarden, oval, rahal, road course, serbia