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IndyCar: GP of Houston preparing for second chance

Jun 9, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

Shell And Pennzoil Grand Prix Of Houston Getty Images

Last year’s Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston was not an altogether pleasant weekend.

The Houston doubleheader last October may have revived the Verizon IndyCar Series championship race going into the season finale, but that aspect was overshadowed by a pesky bump in Turn 1, a constantly revised schedule of events, and of course, the crash that ended the career of Dario Franchitti and injured 13 fans via flying debris.

Now the series is set to head back there at the end of the month, and naturally, there are questions about what the promoters are doing to ensure that this year’s running is less troubled.

ABC affiliate KTRK reports grandstands in some of the track’s high-speed areas are being pushed farther away, presumably in response to the Franchitti wreck that took place in Turn 5 of the temporary circuit at NRG Park.

Franchitti was sent airborne and slammed hard into the catch fence, spraying debris all over the course and into a nearby seating area.

Course designer Martyn Thake told KTRK that the crash was a perfect storm of circumstances.

“There are racing incidents,” he said to the station. “If you would’ve sat down and tried to describe [the crash] to me, I would’ve said a million to one shot.

“It’s just a matter of everything happening at the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Additionally, some parts of the circuit are also getting a repave to make things smoother. The Associated Press relays word from Thake that the Turn 1 area has been demolished and new concrete is being poured there.

Construction of the Grand Prix track began with a ceremony today that saw Will Power, Takuma Sato, and Mikhail Aleshin get inside forklifts and move the first barriers into place. The trio also signed autographs for local fans.

The Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston will air LIVE on NBCSN June 28 and 29 at 3 p.m. ET.

  1. kitnamania13 - Jun 9, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    The decision to schedule Houston at the end of June was unbelievably dumb. Maybe they’ll get lucky and it will only be 95 degrees on both race days.

    • Chris Estrada - Jun 9, 2014 at 5:13 PM

      Night races were talked about last year as a 2014 possibility: http://motorsportstalk.nbcsports.com/2013/10/04/night-race-possible-for-gp-of-houston-in-2014/

      On the bright side, the promoters don’t have to worry about having to thrash on setting up or breaking down the course during football season.

    • indycarseries500 - Jun 9, 2014 at 5:39 PM

      Of course it’s still pretty far out but Accuweather has Saturday being 91 and cloudy, and Sunday being 93 and sunny with a possible thunderstorm. Hopefully that stays the same since it’s probably as good as you’re going to get in late June in Texas.

  2. manik56 - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:54 PM

    It could just as easily be 95 at Mid-Ohio in August…of course that track is surrounded by grass and not concrete. I am just happy they have a place to race. It looked like a great event on TV.

    • midtec2005 - Jun 11, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      How could someone thumb this down? The most places in the midwest routinely reach over 100 degrees, and have 90% humidity to boot, and Ohio is definitely one of those places. The only difference is that it isn’t a guarantee in the midwest, as it is in Houston.

  3. randominternetpunter - Jun 10, 2014 at 8:15 AM

    I have the solution regarding the crowd safety issue.
    Make sure Sato is a DNS.

  4. midtec2005 - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    On a more serious note, why not tether the fences to the concrete blocks? So if they go flying, the tether cable will catch it. Simple solution…

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