Indianapolis Motor Speedway press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Joie, why did you choose to or why did you need to revamp the infield course? CHITWOOD: Well, obviously not that I'm the safety expert. We have our friends with FIM here. But motorcycles have different needs...

Continued from part 1

Q: Joie, why did you choose to or why did you need to revamp the infield course?

CHITWOOD: Well, obviously not that I'm the safety expert. We have our friends with FIM here. But motorcycles have different needs than four wheels. And probably the biggest thing is the runoff area. Obviously, concrete walls are not a good thing for gentlemen on motorcycles. So the ability to switch the road course, run it the other way, creating an opportunity of better runoff and safety areas. Some of the things that we're putting in, when you looked at that diagram, you can see what we're doing in Turn 1 to make sure that they have the appropriate runoff.

One of the things we don't do here, we do not compromise safety. That is very important to us. We have a world-class racing property. We would never do anything that wasn't to the highest standard. Whether it was the first rear-view mirror ever used on an automobile was here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1911. To the use of helmets, to the creation of the SAFER Barrier, we want to make sure that the competitors enjoy their experience here and feel very comfortable racing to their fullest potential.

Q: Mr. Ezpeleta, could you talk about a second race in the United States and how that helps MotoGP grow.

CARMELO EZPELETA: Well, the United States is the biggest, most important country in the world. Then we have been many years without being in America. And Joie explained clearly we are in the same position as Indianapolis and Laguna Seca, we can't risk safety. Once we realized this was possible, first Laguna Seca make a great effort at changing many things in Laguna during the last three years to achieve the possibilities to be there. And it's exactly the same. When we start to talk to Indianapolis in 2000, then we talk a lot. We are extremely happy to be here and to announce, because we realize how important Indianapolis is to the rest of the world. To have the possibility to have this collaboration with Indianapolis and to be one event interesting for Indianapolis. As Joie explained, it's interestingly also economically, we will make the effort to make this event with a lot of spectators, with a lot of interest.

For us, as Kenny said, America is big enough to have two events, for us is really, really important, this collaboration. And I also think one event will help the other. If one event is successful, the other event is also successful more than it was before. We have this experience in the countries where we were more than one time, and they are countries more than the States, Spain or Italy. Then we think it's very important to have two events, and enough surprising the times to make possible marketing both Grand Prixs. But I'm sure the Indianapolis event will be important itself and also will help Laguna.

Q: My understanding is in two thousand (inaudible) the 250s are coming?

EZPELETA: Yes.

Q: Different than Laguna?

EZPELETA: We'll, in Laguna like that was a different situation. But then when we start to talk with Indianapolis we decided to come with different categories. And with Laguna Seca we are speaking maybe in the future we will come with different categories.

Q: Kenny, you said over in the Plaza that you probably hit 210, 215 on the front straightaway here. Would that be the fastest straightaway on the circuit?

ROBERTS: China this year I was in kilometers so I'm not sure of the speed. 320, China. So it's going to be one of the quickest. Certainly it's going to be the quickest or maybe possibly the easiest to make a mistake braking. Because in China you slow down to a first-gear corner, so if you're off line, you're off line by five or 10K, or six, seven miles an hour, then you run two or three bike lengths. But if you're doing 320K or 210 mile an hour and you miss the braking mark by 5 or 10 meters, then your speed that you're trying to slow down to versus the line you're trying to hit is going to be quite more significant. So I think it's going to be an interesting corner. And as long as the camber stays to where you can run it off and you don't have any type of camber change between the existing circuit and Turn 1, it's going to be an exciting corner and one that you can gain a lot of time on when you're behind somebody. Or one that you can really have an advantage on if you have a tire or a machine advantage. That should probably be one of the most exciting corners on the circuit.

Q: Do you think this could possibly blossom into an Indianapolis bike week leading up to this?

CHITWOOD: Well, one of the things I think that we're proud of is that usually the events of the Speedway transcend and bring more people to the community, and it's about what happens downtown and the other places around it. I'm sure that there's going to be other opportunities as it relates to motorcycles. Who knows what might happen at the Fairgrounds and other things around the event. So yeah, I think this is going to be more than just what happens at the Speedway.

Q: Kenny, one of the big complaints with the Formula One crowd here was there was no place to pass, but it doesn't seem to make any difference in MotoGP as long as there's some pavement, you guys seem to -- does it matter if it's flat or you have a lot of elevation changes?

ROBERTS: Well, I've seen the layout now. The way that they've set up and actually modified the existing Formula One circuit is going to create even more passing than I think most of the tracks out there. Certainly you're going to have double drafting down the front straight. If you have two equal bikes, if somebody gets a drive out of the last corner, they get passed, you're going to have the ability to repass into Turn 1. And you're going to have a double right as your first two right-hand corners. And there's going to be areas to where you can actually block pass up in (Turns) 6 and 7 and areas like that. So I do see that it's going to be one of the more interesting circuits to be able to do that.

And again the machinery is going to be -- if you basically just put Valentino on the back and then you have him passing through everybody to come toward the front, plus the machinery difference, it should be a good race. (Laughter)

Q: Joie, if F1 were to return at some point, is the existing course still going to be there, or will it run on the new course or a combination of the two?

CHITWOOD: One of the things that we did moving forward is we -- I'm not sure if it might be the only time, but we had a joint FIM/FIA inspection. So any changes that are being made to the road course should Formula One ever return, we still could use those changes for Formula One.

Q: What will you use for safety barrier on the outside of the last corner?

CHITWOOD: I'm not sure we have any --

ROBERTS: Who did I ride with today, who designed the track? Kevin Forbes, yes. So there's still some discussion maybe about possibly tightening that turn up a little bit more to make sure that you come on to it accelerating out of first or second gear and maybe only 15 to 30-degrees towards that wall, which would be coming off of Turn 4. And they have the ability to do it. And if you can do that, that wall won't be a factor.

And then what you can do just in case there's a real weird -- which at the moment with the safety committee with Carmelo leading the way in Europe, what we're able to do is use all types of different protection. Now what we're doing is planning for the freak accidents, like throttle sticking or oil in the back tire, blah blah, blah. So what you could do there, you don't want any type of A protection, which is your soft air bag. Because if you hit it at a sharp angle it catches you and continually keeps you into the wall. So you could use a conveyor belt with tires behind that. Or Indy themselves can come up with something that -- you want something that has a lot of, you know, you don't want any type of friction. So anything you can do along that. Because you're going to be hitting it more of a glancing blow, not kind of straight into it. Especially if they're able to make the modifications to that last turn.

Q: Joie, there appeared to be some sort of discussion over the exact date of this event. Would you talk about the choice of September 14th.

CHITWOOD: Well, for us we have a fairly busy summer. And as we started discussing the opportunities with MotoGP, obviously we still had Formula One on our schedule. But also taking into account their schedule in terms of where they'd be around the world. We started looking at late August and September as opportunities. I think one of the things in September, while working with MotoGP, is a little bit on the earlier side. We've hosted events here in late September, and once in a while the weather doesn't cooperate. So all in all, I think that we've seen some very nice weather early September, and I think it will be a great opportunity for a number of folks to ride on down to Indianapolis and check it out.

Q: I was wondering, how many teams and how many riders to a team?

EZPELETA: Normally we have in total around 80 riders between the three categories. In MotoGP there are around 20.

Q: Is that 20 teams or --

EZPELETA: No, 10 teams or maybe 12, because there are two teams with one rider. But it's 20 riders.

Q: Joie, how big a crowd do you expect? Have you done any studies and projections or anything like that?

CHITWOOD: I'm going to take a page out of the book of these two riders here, and I'm just going to tell you big. (Laughter)

-credit: ims

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series MOTOGP