Construction underway on MotoGP road course at IMS
Construction on the new, 2.601-mile road course to be used for the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis GP motorcycle race has started at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
IMS officials plan to have all construction completed by Opening Day for the 92nd Indianapolis 500 in early May.
"Our motorcycle event is Sept. 14, 2008, and we have a little event called the Indy 500 in May and you really can't work on anything in May," said Joie Chitwood, IMS president and chief operating officer. "So the goal is to get it done as soon as possible so that we're prepared for May for the Indy 500 and our other events."
Construction began Monday, July 30, the day after the 2007 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, and is occurring in two places in the IMS infield.
Catch fencing and viewing mounds are being removed from inside Turn 1 of the IMS oval to build a new, four-turn section for MotoGP bikes. Dry Run Creek, which runs inside Turn 1, will be re-routed and filled to accommodate the new section of course. Behind the IMS Hall of Fame Museum, a new, faster S-curve complex is being built that will rocket riders onto the backstraight on Hulman Boulevard.
Kevin Forbes, IMS director of engineering and construction, is overseeing the project and hopes to have much of the construction done before the cold weather of winter.
"I think we'll see the majority of the completion occur by the end of October," Forbes said. "Really, the weather has to be conducive to racetrack paving, and that typically means warm temperatures. So we really need to get the majority of this done by October. I think we would probably be ready to test a motorcycle here, at speed, probably sometime in July 2008."
Although this construction project requires heavy equipment and machinery, Forbes said there is a large amount of finesse involved to preserve the facility and the existing infrastructure.
"This really isn't a massive project, but it's a very, very delicate project," Forbes said. "We have to maintain this facility. This facility is operational basically 364 days a year, and we like to keep a nice home. We like to keep it neat and tidy for all the guests that we have year-round."
All construction is closed to the general public. IMS track tours will continue during the project.