Mid-Ohio track changes coming

AR1.com has said for the last 10 years Mid-Ohio needs alterations to improve the racing

When Kim Green and Kevin Savoree bought Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last year, Green said it struck him that he had just come into possession of the motor-racing equivalent of a Rembrandt.

“It’s like a fine piece of art," Green said yesterday. “It’s been around for quite a long time, and we don’t want to screw it up."

That came in response to questions about possible changes to the layout of the 2.238-mile road course that might make it a more-competitive track in terms of passing possibilities. Some plans are in the works, Green said, but they aren’t final.

“This time a year ago, I was bullish on at least being able to show the plans this weekend," he said. “But if it’s going to take a little longer than what Kevin and I envisaged, that’s how it has to be. “On the optimistic side, we might be looking at some things that first will have to do with safety and then maybe — maybe — some slight changes to some corners for the 2013 season." IndyCar is visiting Mid-Ohio this week, with the Honda Indy 200 on Sunday. In practice yesterday, Will Power of Team Penske turned the quickest lap in 1 minute, 6.8632 seconds. Qualifying starts at 11 a.m. today. Power’s teammate, Ryan Briscoe, who won at Mid-Ohio in 2008, said that as much as IndyCar drivers would like a few modifications, they shouldn’t come at the expense of the soul of one of the few true terrain-following professional road courses in the country.

“I truly love Mid-Ohio, and Watkins Glen, and Road America. I think most drivers do," said Briscoe, who was 15th in the practice session. “Those are classic tracks."

With that said, he offered an idea for a change he thinks could be made easily.

“You could take the straightaway from turn one to turn two, the keyhole, and make it, say, half again longer, depending on how far up you could push that keyhole turn toward the road," he said, referring to the highest point on the property. “You’d be creating a better passing zone going into turn two, and at the same time extending the following straightaway, the longest on the track. That would be awesome."

Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver Takuma Sato, who ran in Formula One before moving to IndyCar several years ago, said another change to be considered would be tightening the turn at the far end of that long back straightaway leading into the S-curves.

“If they could make it something like a 120-degree corner, it would make it much more of a braking zone and I think present more opportunity for passing," Sato said.

Green is listening. He’s not ready to move dirt, but, “Of course, the racetrack has been here 50 years, and race cars have evolved greatly in that time."

Many road-course tracks across the globe have gone through similar changes, either to make them safer or to boost competition. Yet driver Justin Wilson understood why Green is cautious about making changes to Mid-Ohio.

“That’s probably the best plan, take turn two and take it further (back)," Wilson said. “But I’d be nervous about doing anything because right now it’s such a good racetrack, such a good driver’s track. Every driver loves driving it." Columbus Dispatch

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