Crain News Service report
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 11, 2013) — IndyCar drivers Graham Rahal and Ryan Briscoe tested the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sept. 4 in anticipation of the Izod IndyCar Series announcing a road course race at the Brickyard for as early as 2014.
Mr. Rahal said that the road course will be an interesting challenge both for the drivers and the teams setting up their cars.
"We wanted to evaluate the racetrack as it is," said Derrick Walker, president of competition and operations, IndyCar. "There are a number of ideas to improve overtaking and making the racing more interesting perhaps than it was during the Formula One days. I'm not sure the Speedway needs to make monster changes. There could be some alterations that would improve the racing short term, and then 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."
Messrs. Rahal and Briscoe logged laps clockwise and counterclockwise, utilizing turn one of the oval and the existing turn one of the road course.
"It's a little different going the opposite way around, but it's actually not a bad track," said Mr. Rahal, who raced on the Grand Prix layout in Formula BMW in 2004 and Firestone Indy Lights in 2006.
"Everybody knocks it, but I've had some fun," he continued. "You're sliding around; there's not a lot of grip. The track layout as it is, would it be great for passing? There are really only two spots. But that's why we're trying a lot of different configurations to analyze and potentially help.
"I suggested a few things already, and IMS and IndyCar want input. When I showed up, I thought we shouldn't use turn one 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."
To view the video of one of Mr. Rahal's laps around the road course at the Brickyard, click here.
This report appeared on the website of Autoweek magazine, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.