Continued from part 1
SHEHEEN: OK, now it's time to talk some racing. Let's bring Joie Chitwood back up here and discuss a little bit about the course the MotoGP bikes will be racing on.
CHITWOOD: Thanks, Ralph. You know, we do have an existing road course, but essentially we're almost creating a new motorcycle road course just for this event. You'll see from the graphic ahead the Red Bull Indianapolis GP will take place on a new 16-turn, 2.601-mile motorcycle road course that will feature the riders traveling counterclockwise, which is the same direction as the facility's oval events.
The biggest physical change to the property will take place in the infield area of Turn 1 of the oval. Just as the riders get to the end of the pit lane, they'll take a hard left-hander into the infield and negotiate Turns 1, 2, 3, and 4 before they come back onto the south short chute and pick up existing road-course tarmac. The other big change will come in the area behind the Hall of Fame Museum. The riders will go through Turns 7, 8, and 9 before entering the back straightaway. These three turns are new and faster than the old existing combination of turns in that area.
In this area, we'll also construct a temporary grandstand called Corner 7 Terrace. The rest of the course uses the old road-course tarmac, but it is essentially a new course because every right-hand turn becomes a left-hand turn and vice versa. So this is really a new road course. I can't wait to see it happen, and I have to leave you with one final statement, Ralph. Bikes and bricks, I never thought they'd sound so good together. (Applause)
SHEHEEN: Thank you, Joie. The 2008 Red Bull Indianapolis GP is going to be an extra special race for the reigning MotoGP World Champion. His name is Nicky Hayden, and he is already calling this event his home race because he hails from nearby Owensboro, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Evansville, Indiana. Now, Nicky is currently traveling between Germany and California, so he could not make it to Indy today, but he did record this message for us.
NICKY HAYDEN: (video)- The news that we're going to Indy is great. I mean, California is cool and that's local enough, but Indianapolis is really in my backyard and, you know, I think it's going to be great for the American fans who, you know, it's hard for them to travel all the way to California. That Indy market is, you know, definitely central. There's a lot of people not far away that, you know, I think they'll get to come experience MotoGP. And, you know, to have them, you know, in our backyard twice will be great for me, less travel and also my friends and family.
And I haven't even seen the track yet, but I can't find any negative. I think it's the best news I've heard in a while. So hopefully they can put it together. I mean, Indy -- you know, if you like racing, Indy is the spot. It doesn't matter, cars or whatever, I mean, a lot of die hard racing fans there, and I think they're going to get a good show.(Applause)
SHEHEEN: Although Nicky couldn't be here with us today, we do have two World Champions here with us. Let's bring Kenny Roberts Jr., to the stage. Kenny is the 2000 MotoGP World Champion and has won eight MotoGP events. Sharing his name with his legendary father, please welcome California's Kenny Roberts Jr. (Applause)
Did you ever think you'd race a motorcycle at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
KENNY ROBERTS JR.: No, I have grown up in the days where there's spin and win (Danny Sullivan winning the 1985 Indy 500). Rick Mears was my hero back then, and to see motorcycles going around the circuit is going to be unusual, but it's a nice fit.
SHEHEEN: You had an opportunity to take a look at the racetrack design, the layout. What do you think?
ROBERTS: Well, I have several hats on because I'm part of a safety committee and, you know, I'm up there in years and I think that they've done a fantastic job. One of the things is, just speaking with some of the people today, it's 'OK, well, maybe this could be improved,' and then you go back and forth. But here it's like, 'OK, done.' And that's the type of thing MotoGP needs, and I think it's a great fit.
SHEHEEN: How about the front straightaway here at Indianapolis that is so legendary, what's that going to be like on a motorcycle?
ROBERTS: Fast. It's going to be fast. No, it's going to be nice. I got a tour of it, and it's going to be, you know, if not one of the most exciting circuits for us, certainly the environment is one of the most exciting circuits.
SHEHEEN: Obviously you haven't really had a chance to get into gear here or anything yet, but what kind of speeds do you think we'll see on that front stretch?
ROBERTS: 210, 215.
SHEHEEN: Did you ever think you'd do 200 miles an hour over a Yard of Bricks?
ROBERTS: No, I never did.
SHEHEEN: Kenny Roberts Jr., ladies and gentlemen. (Applause)
Well, we're lucky to have an individual who's intimately involved in several forms of international motorcycle racing. He is the president of the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme. Let's bring Vito Ippolito up to the stage, please. (Applause)
VITO IPPOLITO: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, the mayor of the city, Mr. Ezpeleta, two fantastic drivers we have here, Kevin Schwantz and Kenny Jr. And, of course, all the fans of motorcycle races invited in this nice, nice, amazing opportunity.
On behalf of the Motorcycle International Federation, I can express that we are very satisfied and happy with this opportunity. Motorcycles come back to Indianapolis, where when Indianapolis started with this activity a century ago. And we are happy to have this opportunity. Thanks to the corporation, the Hulman-George family, our partners of Dorna, Mr. Ezpeleta, and many, many other people. The synergy and energy among these people, then this dream came true.
I can't really express my satisfaction. I feel some emotion for this opportunity that the motorcycle sport will have here in the United States, especially in Indianapolis. We have 18 rounds of the world championship around the world, but Indianapolis, I think, is very special. It will be very special. Congratulations and good luck to everybody. Thank you. (Applause)
SHEHEEN: Thank you, Mr. Ippolito. Well, the next guy was always one of my motorsports idols, and he's also a great friend. He's also a former World Champion from America. Please welcome 1993 World Champion Kevin Schwantz. (Applause)
Nice to see you, Kevin. OK, your thoughts on the racetrack layout. What did you think?
KEVIN SCHWANTZ: It looks great. I don't know that it's quite enough to get me to come out of retirement, but it sure looks like a great track.
SHEHEEN: Are you sure we can't talk you into it?
SCHWANTZ: I'm sure.
SHEHEEN: All right. Kenny Jr., is telling us that maybe 210 miles an hour down the front straightaway. Can you put into perspective for those of us that will probably never do 210 miles an hour, let alone on two wheels, what that's like?
SCHWANTZ: Fast. Real fast. And then especially having to negotiate that first turn, those first combination of turns. I think Kenny said it better than anybody: It's going to be a great challenge. It'll be unlike any other venue that maybe we go to, and I think the race will be terrific.
SHEHEEN: As you look at the racetrack layout, and, of course, as race fans we want to think about passing and where we should sit to watch the event from, what are your thoughts.
SCHWANTZ: Well, that's the neat thing about Indianapolis Motor Speedway is everywhere has got a perspective of the whole track. Maybe this new terrace they're talking about in Turn 7 is going to be the ultimate spot, but any spot in the grandstand you can see 90 percent of the racetrack and, you know, that's what racing is all about, instead of just being able to see them go by at 210 miles an hour one time, you can keep up with what's happening the entire lap.
SHEHEEN: Kevin, you've won all the over the world, you've done everything there is to do on two wheels. Can you put into perspective for a racer what the Indianapolis Motor Speedway means and what winning here would mean to you?
SCHWANTZ: You know, it's the only place that I go nowadays when I pull into this Speedway, and I noticed it just a little while ago when we drove in, you get goose bumps. It's what motorsports is all about. It's one of those places that I would have loved the opportunity to try and win here and, you know, the guys that are going to get to actually have that opportunity, I think, are going to feel that same, you know, that same special feeling. When they pull into the Brickyard, they're going to think, "Oh, my goodness, we're here; let's see if we can win one."
SHEHEEN: Was I the only one that heard him say I would have loved to have the opportunity and then a little twinkle went on? We've got a year to work on him, folks. Kevin Schwantz, ladies and gentlemen. (Applause)
Well, as Kevin said, no matter how many times you've been here, you do get goose bumps when you come through the tunnel into this historic facility. All you have to say is Indy or just the Speedway, and every racer around the world gets that twinkle their eye, and they know exactly which racetrack you're talking about. They all dream of winning here at the Brickyard. And the greatest names in motorsports have stood in the most hallowed of all victory lanes right here at the Brickyard. They've done it at Nomex, and now they're about to stand there in leather with knee pucks on.
Today was an incredible moment in racing history. I can only imagine how amazing it will be when we all return here to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway September 14th, 2008, for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. The sights, the sounds, and, of course, the speed of the world's best motorcycle racers on top of the world's fastest and quickest road racing machines, all on the world's most famous racetrack. It will be an experience you will not want to miss.