Testing multiple configurations throughout the day, IndyCar and speedway officials were looking to learn more in advance of a possible $100 million upgrade to the facility, as well as an additional IndyCar race on the course to kick off the month of May.
When all was said and done, it seems everyone walked away from the test optimistic that not only could IndyCar pull off a race on the infield road course, but it would create exciting racing.
“We wanted to evaluate the racetrack as it is. There are a number of ideas to improve overtaking and making the racing more interesting perhaps than it was during the Formula One days,” Derrick Walker, President of Competition and Operations for IndyCar, said.
“There could be some alterations that would improve the racing short term, and then I think if the fans come, you keep doing more and keep doing more. I think you could develop a really unique racetrack out of the infield.”
Both drivers raved about the opportunity to be part of the unique test on Twitter and with the media.
Out of the car for just a minute, ill tell you this, it’s a riot! I love it. More configurations to try but really enjoying it thus far.
— Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) September 4, 2013
“I suggested a few things already and IMS and IndyCar want input,” Rahal said. “When I showed up, I thought we shouldn’t use Turn 1 at Indy. We shouldn’t run on the oval at all. But I think that’s what is going to make the racing so good. If you’re leading on the last lap, you’re bound to get passed by anyone within eight car lengths. The tow someone would get down the frontstraight would be massive.
“How do you put a quick lap in? Do you set up the car to go for the frontstraight or the infield? That could be an intriguing mix race day. Having a straightaway this long, with the top speed of about 190 (mph), it’s quite a mix. I think that would make the racing extremely exciting here.”
With some minor changes this could be one of our best tracks all year. I am extremely excited and fortunate to have gotten to run today! — Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) September 4, 2013
“It’s a good road course,” Briscoe said. “As you come down the middle stretch (Hulman Boulevard), it’s a very fast corner, and it would make passing difficult. If you came down that straight into a tighter corner, it would help the racing a little bit. The layout is really nice. It’s fast and it’s pretty physical, as well.”
Our goal is to make a counter-clockwise layout that will offer the most passing ops and create more agro between drivers because of it — Ryan Briscoe (@Ryan_Briscoe) September 4, 2013
Track president J. Douglas Boles praised the idea of IndyCar utilizing the infield road course for either testing purposes or hosting a race. “Yes, it’s a break from tradition, not running in the oval direction, but that’s why we’re here,” Boles said. “We’re excited and we’re hearing great things from the drivers, which is even better, and that’s the next step in deciding how we use the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.”
— J. Douglas Boles (@jdouglas4) September 4, 2013
If all goes according to plan, IndyCar could host an event on the infield road course as early as 2014 at the beginning of May to kick off the excitement leading up to the Indianapolis 500 – something former Indy 500 champion Bobby Rahal is in favor of doing.
“I feel privileged to be a part of (the test day) and excited about the idea,” Rahal, the 1986 Indy 500 champion, said. “Just as Daytona has a number of events leading up to the ’500,’ why not Indianapolis with a road course race in early May?”