IndyCar officials provide details for revised 2.434-mile IMS road course
Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials laid out a plan today to invigorate the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series with a road course race at the historic facility May 10, 2014.
The Grand Prix of Indianapolis will be an afternoon race on a circuit that’s being modified for better action. And everyone will have an opportunity to see it.
In addition to on-site access, WRTV-6 will be allowed to show the ABC race in this market, something that’s never been allowed for the Indianapolis 500.
Mark Miles, the CEO of Hulman & Co., which owns the track and the series, described it as an investment in the future.
“This is a chance for, especially Hoosiers, to see the same cars, the same colors, the same (car) numbers, the same drivers and be more engaged fans by the time we get to Memorial Day, which can only be a good thing for the 500,” he told The Indianapolis Star’s Editorial Board.
Almost everything about the 14-turn, 2.434-mile road course race will be different from the 500, beginning with the way the race starts. Instead of cars flying down the front straightaway, a century-old practice, cars will launch from a standing position.
They’ll also race in a different direction: Clockwise, which capitalizes on what 500 winner Tony Kanaan described as “the best passing corner in all of IndyCar racing.”
That corner is a sharp right-hander at what oval-track fans know as the exit of Turn 4.
From then on, the IndyCar drivers will proceed through a course that looks familiar to the current layout but will be reworked over the next several months.
The north portion of the infield — Turns 2 through 6 — should allow the cars to flow better than Formula One, MotoGP and Grand-Am machines have. The exit of Turn 6 will set the drivers up for a lengthened run through the middle of the facility, now 2,500 feet with a hard left-hand turn awaiting them. That’s the second of three major passing zones.
The cars will still snake through the area behind the IMS Hall of Fame Museum, but modifications already under way will make the driving smoother and faster. The final braking point comes at Turn 12, a right-handed turn in front of the South Vista.
For cost reasons, there will be no modifications to the Brickyard Crossing golf course or the infield’s elevation. Miles put the facility changes at $5 million to $6 million, funding that’s expected to come from the state tax pool approved in May.
“It would be north of $20 million for elevation changes, and there’s not enough room,” IMS president Doug Boles said.
Adding lights is also too expensive for a relatively small gain, Miles said.
The road race is expected to be 80 laps, or about 200 miles, and fit in a 2.5-hour television window.
Ticket sales will be different than the 500, too, with only about one-fifth of the permanent seats utilized. And, they’ll be cheaper.
Most of the South Vista will cost $40. The Northwest Vista, which overlooks Turns 1 through 6, will be $65. There will be a $10 discount for those who buy ticket to at least one other IMS race.
General admission tickets, which allow for access to the expanded infield mounds, will be $25. Children 12 and under will be free.
The event will include all four IndyCar levels — IndyCar, Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 — and start with practice Thursday, May 8. That session will be free.
Practice, qualifying and likely a couple of support series races will be held Friday, May 9. Admission for that day will be $20.
After the Saturday IndyCar road race, the facility will be converted to its oval-track configuration, with 500 practice beginning Sunday, May 11, which is Mother’s Day.
Indy 500 qualifying will continue to be the second weekend, although Miles said modifications to that format are being considered.
“It is not a (qualifying) race,” Miles said.
Carburetion Day will remain largely the same as in recent years.
Another big change will come the day prior to the 500, when Miles hopes to have a major concert on the front straightaway at twilight, an idea derived from the opening ceremonies of the 1987 Pan American Games he helped organized.
“We have a public driver meeting and a legend’s autograph signing,” Miles said. “It seems like a big opportunity (for more).”
Miles said ABC exercised its option to air the race in what will be its 50th consecutive year of broadcasting the 500. He hopes to make the three-week display “a birthday party.”
Sponsorship of the race has not been finalized.
Also under consideration is a prize for the driver who wins both May races. The trophy could be called “the Hulman Cup,” Miles said. Indy Star