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Graham Rahal to test Indy road course on Wednesday

Aug 29, 2013, 11:45 AM EDT

Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg - Day 1 Getty Images

Graham Rahal will test a Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda this coming Wednesday, Sept. 4, on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course as the track continues to think about staging an IZOD IndyCar Series race on the infield circuit in May of 2014.

Several configurations of the circuit will be tested by Rahal. It will mark just the second time that an IZOD IndyCar Series machine has turned laps on the IMS road course; the only other time came in the fall of 2011 as part of development for the then-new Dallara DW12 that made its on-track debut the following year.

Rahal has experience on the IMS road course, with runs in both Formula BMW and Firestone Indy Lights events.

“Anytime a driver can take laps at Indianapolis, even on the road course, it is a special day and I am happy to have been asked to be part of this test and to provide some input on how an INDYCAR might perform at IMS,” said Rahal in a statement from the Speedway.

“I have raced on the road course at IMS, so I already have a good idea of what to expect in an IndyCar over most of the track. It will be particularly interesting to run the car on different portions of the track, including the Turn 1 road course section.”

The Indianapolis Star‘s Curt Cavin reports that should a IndyCar road race at IMS come to fruition, it would be held on the weekend of May 10-11, 2014 – two weeks before the 98th Indianapolis 500 on May 25, 2014.

In the same Speedway statement, IMS president J. Douglas Boles said that there had been no decision made yet about a future IndyCar race on the road course. But he mentioned wanting to use the test to “help refine the investment we are planning to make to the track portion of our overall facility planning.”

The Speedway’s officials are looking to pour nearly $100 million into the facility in the coming years, and a part of their master plan could involve improvements to the oft-maligned road course.

“As we look to the future of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the goal is to make changes to the road course that provide the most flexibility for its potential use and create a layout that is entertaining for our fans and enjoyable for our drivers – whether it is for IndyCar testing or racing, sports cars, MotoGP or other uses,” he said.

  1. muddytrane - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    This is just a way for the Hulman-George family to try and recoup the hundreds of millions of dollars that they lost due to Tony George’s “vision” with both the IRL and the road course at IMS. We fans knew that someday the family would get this plan going to get some money back from the RC being built but we also know that it’s one of the worst RC tracks in the US. There are way too many great RC tracks in this country alone (Road America, Miller Motorsports Park, VIR, Portland, Laguna Seca, etc.) that IndyCar can and has raced at for them to be held hostage by the family and run at the IMS RC. Derrick Walker even said during the pre race at Sonoma that it would take massive changes to the track to make it competitive for great racing and he is right. Just another bonehead move by those at 16th and Georgetown that we fans have continue to have to put up with!

    • snoopyo - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:36 AM

      That family was given keys to the kingdom but they have everything they can to destroy it.Somebody should have gotten TG some Harry Caray glasses to make sure he had better vision.Those people are so dumb they had to hire a consulting firm to find ways to improve things. The consulting firm didn’t know a thing about racing and came up with this idea to have another race on the road course and raise the tickets for the 500. Well lets see you have raised the price of tickets for the main event and some people can only afford to go to the one event alone,but you are going to have another race a couple weeks before that and expect people to come and spend money for that one as well. Then they ask for 100 million in tax payers money well they would have a few hundred more million if they didn’t give Tony an open checkbook.

    • snoopyo - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:43 AM

      Hey MUDDY you going to the race this weekend, I went to Mid-Ohio but I didn’t see TG or John Barnes to tell them how big of idiots they are and what did you think of Dario’s crybaby comments about how Power was driving against him last week. Instead of the dumb INDY road course how about going to Portland a part of the country that has no major races and try that instead of a road course that is horrible. There are plenty of race fans in the Pacific Northwest who would like to see a race.

  2. midtec2005 - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Good to see you here muddy! Yeah racing at this place is stupid… it will probably be a disaster. I think every single fan would be so much happier if they just went to one of the classic American road courses, or VIR! That is the american nurburgring… apparently they need more run off areas for Indycars though.

    What Indycar really needs is a new owner/ceo who is a fan and NOT a business man, but has businessmen advising him.

  3. bikesgonewild - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    …i’d think a race on a decently configured road course at indy several weeks before the 500 could work out to be an interesting & attractive idea except, that like a bad jailhouse tattoo, this would seem to have the ugly, blotched ink of tony george smearing it’s background…

    …there are other great american road courses that with a little work, could be brought up to speed for the indy cars & the less involvement with anything tony george has a hand in, the better…

    …when your three sisters prompt a move to have you disposed of as ceo of the family’s longstanding business interests (hulman & co. & the speedway), even though mommy says you still get to be part of the board of directors, i’m thinking that might make you stop & re-evaluate…
    …i doubt that factors into gung-ho tony’s thinking…

  4. lesovuls - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Thanks TG, this will take the shine off the 500. Just start dumping dirt on the road course and bury it. Lots of great road courses they could visit,Seca, Road America.

  5. Jeff - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    Should be first weekend in May. Make it a true Month of May again.

  6. tonelok - Aug 29, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    Derek Walker mentioned changes that would have to be made to the road course at IMS. Question: Would those changes happen before the inaugural race in early May if the powers to be decided to actually have a race?

    • indycarseries500 - Aug 29, 2013 at 9:32 PM

      My guess would be they’d run the 2014 season with little to no changes and after the Indianapolis MotoGP in August start work on wholesale changes.

  7. indycarseries500 - Aug 29, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    This is actually a smart move for IndyCar and the Speedway. Chip Ganassi was asked what tracks he’d like to see on the schedule and he said something along the lines of “I don’t care where we race as long as they’re great events” IMS gives them a chance to put on a great event, being at IMS is a major coupe for sponsors and partners. They’re going to draw five to ten times the crowd they would for practice and going to sell or have already sold a title sponsor. Anyone who thinks this would take the shine off the 500 are insane, nobody is going to say “hmmmm…I think I’m going to choose this race on the rc over the Indianapolis 500” nor is any driver going to say “Gee this as good as winning the 500” Adding a road course event will only enhance the month of May.

    The pluses outweigh the minuses in my opinion. Also IndyCar has to be invited to race places maybe Road America, Miller, VIR, Portland, etc aren’t willing to pay IndyCar’s price and IndyCar/IRL as well as CART/Champ Car undersold themselves for so many years and they can’t afford to do that anymore.

  8. zzyzxx8 - Aug 29, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    I think that the new MotoGP version of the road course is much better than the old F1 version. Not sure if it will work with the Indycars, but it seems much more like a “real” road course than the old half oval, half road course.

  9. purplesectornet - Aug 30, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Smart move? What’s next? Dog races at the Kentucky Derby? Or how about the jockeys start the race with the horse, stop half way through, then sprint on foot to the line? Is that a good idea?

    How about if we just demo all of Monte Carlo and install a banked oval?

  10. purplesectornet - Aug 30, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    But you know – according to the man that named himself after both the series and the race that used to be held on hallowed ground…I’m insane.

    So don’t listen to me. PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT.

    • indycarseries500 - Aug 30, 2013 at 4:36 PM

      Haha yeah I know I’m kind of insane for thinking that. Churchill Downs does hold multiple horse races throughout the year. It was nice when the 500 was the only race at IMS but that all went out the window with NASCAR, F1, MotoGP, Grand-Am but none of those events are the Indianapolis 500. The Firecracker 400 isn’t the Daytona 500, a DTM race on the Bugatti circuit isn’t the 24 hours of Le Mans, The GP2 race in Monte Carlo isn’t the Monaco GP. I’m not for being for it but I can see where it makes sense businesswise for IMS and IndyCar. Sadly times are changing in motorsports like your rant about the public damning excellence leading to gimicks like cautions, spec cars, DRS, stupid tires, etc.

  11. purplesectornet - Aug 30, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    The problem is: the “business decision” was to run F1 at the Speedway. Then the Speedway and the good folks of Indianapolis ran into the buzz saw that is called FOM. That buzz saw then kept its mouth shut and built a new track, if they are lucky, still remains to be seen – they are also about to pull off the biggest coup in auto racing in this county ever….that is, run a race with Manhattan in the backdrop.

    So fine – the war was lost. Oh well, it’s a foreign sport anyway. I don’t really see it that way; but most of y’all do…so dude is right. Just bury the mistake. There is no shame in that…a mistake was made. All of this is of course my opinion…to be clear, it’s my opinion that it’s right to just punt and forget that road course at IMS. OK so there is an investment there…I get it. But leave IndyCars off of the mistake at the very least…that is all I’m sayin…

    • indycarseries500 - Aug 31, 2013 at 7:41 PM

      I wouldn’t call F1 a mistake, it was great for the community and I think they made or broke even during those events. (Accepting Bernie’s terms for 2008 probably would’ve made it a mistake.) They must do pretty well off MotoGP and the road course gives the facility more flexibility to do some driving/riding schools. As far as the IndyCars I’m with you a prefer they’d stick to the oval only that has worked for 100+ years but I can see where doing it can work for IndyCar/IMS too.

  12. purplesectornet - Sep 3, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    Well, I’m sure it won’t surprise you that I disagree with your assessment. It’s a mistake because they let F1 go away. But sometimes I really do feel like I am the only man in America that understands that F1 is the true world championship of motor racing…if you have that perspective then you understand that Indy should have never let F1 go…and I do remember all the gloating back them, but Bernie once again has the last laugh…but of course everyone is in denial about that…just the same old same old I guess…

    • indycarseries500 - Sep 3, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      You know I agree with you on your assessment of F1 but I when you’re making a little profit and then all of a sudden the sanctioning fee is almost doubled. It was a business decision on both sides, Bernie had to get something more in line with what he was getting from Asian governments and IMS didn’t see anyway to make FOMs numbers to work for them.

      I feel they should’ve taken state money and kept the USGP but to their credit they stuck to policy and turned it down. Now when they went back last year lobbying to get the loan from the Gov’t, Indiana should’ve said “you didn’t take it when we offered” or put in a stipulation on it that IMS would work to bring F1 back.

  13. purplesectornet - Sep 3, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    Hate to keep disagreeing with you (sort of) but that’s the insanity of Americana, if you will. The point is; and always has been; the prestige F1 brings to the city…I mean if Indianapolis is OK with it then fine…on the one hand that is a hearty folk attitude; but I think there is a bit of stupidity in there…Bernie knows what he is doing…

    I would say the big mistake was to try to discount Formula One. It’s a luxury item…you don’t discount diamonds to the point that you lose money…the price is the price. What I don’t understand is the decision to go all in…then you try to change your mind and grab all your chips back….and that just starts a fistfight…*shrug*

    • indycarseries500 - Sep 3, 2013 at 11:47 PM

      Oh, Indianapolis was pissed they lost the race. I always felt IMS should’ve charged more for tickets but like you said very few of us in the US understand what F1 is, it’s a tough balancing act having that luxury status while trying to grow the series in a market that has so many options entertainment wise just in the motorsports category.

  14. purplesectornet - Sep 4, 2013 at 2:31 AM

    Sorry but that is just more of the same BS. That is what I don’t get. Why do Americans think this way? It makes zero sense. Austin and New Jersey are kind of really big pink elephants in the room that show what you are saying just isn’t true. F1 doesn’t need to grow the series here, it frankly doesn’t even need America; as it has shown, it grew revenue year over year without a race here…Bernie probably made the two races happen because Mercedes and Ferrari demand it.

    I will never get this arrogant attitude that goes “F1 is a tough sell cause of other entertainment options here”….frankly who cares? F1 is so much bigger than America it isn’t even funny…to me this is just sheer hubris and it doesn’t even play anymore in this new world. I mean the term “third world” gets thrown around a lot in these Motorsport discussions and third world isn’t even a relevant term anymore…I really just don’t get it…I think you represent a lot of attitudes about F1 here and to be perfectly honest these attitudes are completely ridiculous…the world does not revolve around America like it used to in the past and I doubt it ever will again…its not a balancing act at all; and it is certainly isn’t tough…if you have paid attention its not even hard, in fact it’s easy…Bernie just cancels the race if it’s not basically licking his boots, and that is how a powerful sport like F1 works – F1 transcends Motorsport completely, it’s one of the biggest sports on the planet, period…I think F1 basically stops the American Motorsports fan’s brain…they just don’t know what it is, and don’t want to know; and speak from a place of, well, not knowing what it is…and I think that is why a lot of the commentary about F1 is just way off base…I mean there is nothing more to really say…its just complete denial…

  15. indycarseries500 - Sep 4, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    Talk about arrogant attitudes…

    Your last two or three sentences are any form of motor racing.

    It’s not an arrogant attitude, we have NASCAR racing 36 times, IndyCar 16 times, USCR10-12 times, NHRA 22 or so times, WoO/USAC racing hundreds of times, etc.. It’s the same thing as soccer, we have football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. It’s just a different culture thing we do our own thing that’s Bernie’s balancing act if he wants America he needs to make it work for the promoter/public or does he say screw it I’ll go somewhere else they don’t want us.

  16. purplesectornet - Sep 4, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    Well good luck in your insular totally clueless view of the world…it isn’t getting us anywhere…that’s the bottom line…and it is called football not soccer…

    • indycarseries500 - Sep 4, 2013 at 4:03 PM

      What do you know of my world view? I never gave one.

  17. purplesectornet - Sep 4, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    And Bernie hasn’t had to balance anything….he totally and completely owned Indy by responding with two races at way better venues…I know that is a bitter pill to swallow but that is what I’m saying….its a huge river….

    • indycarseries500 - Sep 4, 2013 at 4:07 PM

      Like I said IMS probably doesn’t care, same thing with Bernie I highly doubt he thinks “man I really owned Indy”, especially considering he is really good friends with Tony George.

  18. purplesectornet - Sep 4, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    I’ll just end with this – this is the problem with IndyCar – your perspective…it’s a mantra…it’s why you can’t have any meaningful discussion about this stuff at trackforum. Until this sort of thought police state ends, I continue to see IndyCar as broken…both financially and in spirit…I get this all the time..I’m arrogant for perceiving the Pinnacle of Motorsports….I just continue to find it very sad…there is something wrong at play here…very very wrong…

    • indycarseries500 - Sep 4, 2013 at 4:16 PM

      What are you talking about? I do perceive it as the pinnacle of motorsport. I also don’t see why a company should take a hit of millions just to have the privilage of hosting a grand prix.

      Trackforum? why do you go there? You take a small sample of idiots and apply it to the whole, you do kind of fit in though, being the Formula 1 version of those guys.

  19. purplesectornet - Sep 4, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    I’ve said my piece…I like my chances in your comparison…lets compare TV viewership,,,,you know what I really don’t have anything more to say until 2014…

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