US GP Construction On Pace

INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 17, 1999 -- Sept. 24, 1999! One year -- three-hundred and sixty-six days -- to go until Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen, Eddie Irvine and the rest of the Formula One World Championship drivers will race in the United...

INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 17, 1999 -- Sept. 24, 1999! One year -- three-hundred and sixty-six days -- to go until Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen, Eddie Irvine and the rest of the Formula One World Championship drivers will race in the United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That means Kevin Forbes, director of engineering and construction at IMS, Ed Woods of Bovis Construction, Inc., and the crews working under them have less than a year to complete the transformation of the Speedway into the supreme auto-racing palace of the 21st century. It's a project that has taken intuitiveness, initiative and imagination to get off the ground, and a lot of long hours and perspiration to move from the planning board to the construction underway now for nearly nine months. "Everything is on schedule," said Forbes, who returned Sept. 13 from attending the Italian Grand Prix at Monza along with Speedway President Tony George and other IMS officials. Actually, the work schedule doesn't have a one-year leeway. Much of it must be completed by next May so the 85th annual Indianapolis 500, the first at the famed Speedway in the new century, can be conducted. The Brickyard 400 NASCAR Winston Cup and IROC at Indy races follow in mid-summer. Then the United States Grand Prix for F1 cars makes its debut. It will be the first F1 race in the U.S. since 1991 and the first ever within the confines of a facility housing a 2?-mile oval track. The main straightaway and the south end of the oval have been incorporated into the 2.61-mile (4.2-kilometer) road-course layout. "The racetrack is completed with the exception of the run-off pits and guardrails," Forbes said. "They'll be installed probably by the end of November." Forbes indicated there would be no team or car pre-testing on the circuit. However, he said a Formula One team will make a final inspection tour sometime during the winter or early spring. The U.S. Grand Prix is slated as the third-to-last race on the provisional 2000 schedule, preceded by the Italian Grand Prix on Sept. 10 and followed by the Grand Prix of Japan on Oct. 8 and Grand Prix of Malaysia on Oct. 22. So it is possible the championship could be decided at Indy. Construction has moved at a whirlwind pace since Dale Jarrett won his second Brickyard 400 Aug. 7. The media room, which had handled a gaggle of worldwide press representatives for 30 years, was quickly demolished along with the row of manufactures' and sponsors' rooms behind it to make room for the 36 F1 garages and 12 suites that are rising on the inside, south end of the mainstraight. "The structures are about 25 percent complete," Forbes said. "It represents about one-half the work." The garages will extend nearly 200 feet south of the end of the old Tower Terrace. In the clockwise-running race, pitting cars will enter as they come around what is Turn 1 on the oval from the south. All other races are conducted in counter-clockwise fashion, and cars enter the pits when they exit the oval's Turn 4 from the north. The pit surface has been removed from south of the new Pagoda at mid-straight and will be widened to accommodate the F1 pitting procedure that sends the cars back onto the regular surface north of the garages. However, this will have no affect on the way the oval track drivers enter, make their stops and exit the pits. Demolition of the old timing-and-scoring room at the start-finish line was completed in early September. However, work on the tower extension hadn't begun yet because additional demolition of existing facilities was still underway. "It's pretty significant," Forbes said. "It includes the tunnel (being lengthened) and phone room. It's very, very complex. There is very heavy infrastructure that we're kind of weaving around." Pouring of the foundation for the new media building that will be located trackside north of the start-finish line is underway, and similar work for the team office building will follow shortly. Woods, of Bovis Construction, is responsible for management of the entire development project. "We oversee everything from management to design to the actual construction and safety of the project," Woods said. There have been some work schedule changes so everything will fit around the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 next year, Woods said. Temporary stands again will be installed along the south Tower Terrace area for those races.

Source: IRL/IMS

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Dale Jarrett , Michael Schumacher , Tony George