IRL: Motegi warms up for IndyCar Series

IRL: Motegi warms up for IndyCar Series

MOTEGI, Japan - Nearly 600 Indy Racing Series personnel arrived safely in Japan on Monday for the week long celebration culminating in Sunday's Bridgestone Japan Indy 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi. Team members, series officials and staff left the...

MOTEGI, Japan - Nearly 600 Indy Racing Series personnel arrived safely in Japan on Monday for the week long celebration culminating in Sunday's Bridgestone Japan Indy 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi.

Team members, series officials and staff left the United States on Sunday from international airports in San Francisco, New York and Washington, arriving at Narita Airport near Tokyo on Monday afternoon after enduring flights up to 14 hours.

IRL packs for Motegi: Buddy Lazier's Dallara, ready for trip to Japan.
Photo by IMS LLC.
For the most part, teams were given Tuesday and Wednesday off to adjust to local time. Several teams sent skeleton crews to the Twin Ring Motegi on Tuesday to check the cars for damage during transport. None of the teams reported any problems. In fact, crews making the journey in the past suggested that the trip had gone smoother than in previous years.

Fred Nation, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Vice President of Communications, attributed the lack of logistical problems to "observing Formula One" as they prepared for the annual United States Grand Prix.

With two days off, teams spent split their time between hiking in the nearby mountains or day trips to Tokyo. The Shinkansen or Bullet Train was high on the list of tourist attractions.

Once in Tokyo, the gardens surrounding the Imperial Palace were popular a destination as was Electric City, the area of the city known for its many shops featuring the latest laptop computers and electronic gadgetry.

After two days of leave, ultimately to adjust to local time, Thursday was spent as setup day at the track. Crews were able to finish early enough for a brief visit to the Honda Collection Hall, which is located within the speedway grounds, before heading to the Twin Ring Hotel for the official welcome party.

Crews are shuttled to the circuit each day in standard size motor coaches, which are large by Japanese standards. While the trip from the hotel to the circuit was 60 minutes door to door this morning, there have been reports of the same trip taking nearly two and a half hours.

Twin Ring Motegi features an oval track as well as a road course. Outside the road circuit/oval facility there are several karting tracks, a skid pad, a small dirt oval and three go-kart tracks for children. Rental karts for adults are also available at a separate circuit near the children's tracks.

The crews have been well received in the towns as well as at the circuit, with Japanese fans bringing gifts to the drivers on Thursday afternoon. The crews expect to return the favor by running an exciting race on 1.52-mile circuit on Sunday.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Lazier