Indianapolis Repaves Infield - A Prelude To Three US GPs, Perhaps?

The vast majority of MotoGP riders will be much happier tonight, once they learn the news that Indianapolis Motor Speedway is to repave the infield section, from Turn 5 through to Turn 16. The entire back section - from where the track leaves the oval for the second time at Turn 5, all the way through to the point it rejoins the oval at Turn 16 - is to be resurfaced, addressing concerns by a number of riders over the track surface.

Chief among the concerns was the transition between the oval and the road course, the difference in surface grip making it a challenging section. The different surfaces around the various parts of the infield were also cause for criticism, with the various asphalt sections offering varying levels of grip. These concerns are at the heart of IMS' resurfacing project, which the Indianapolis facility has addressed by using the same asphalt as is used on the rest of the road course, creating a near uniform surface around the track.

The reason given for the track resurfacing was the damage the surface suffered during the harsh weather last winter. But the work also hints at Indy's intentions concerning the future of the Indianapolis Red Bull MotoGP round. IMS' contract with Dorna expires this year, the contract having been extended for a single year (2011) in the runup to the 2010 race. There had been strong and credible rumors that 2011 would be the last year of racing for MotoGP at Indy, but those rumors have been replaced in the past couple of months by hints that IMS is close to signing a new, long-term contract with Dorna to host a MotoGP round for the foreseeable future. Indy sits within a day's drive of some of the key markets for MotoGP, being close to the Chicago, Detroit and East Coast areas.

MotoGP remaining at Indy would match with Dorna's ambition to promote the series strongly in North America. With the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas to be added in 2013, three US MotoGP rounds would serve all of North America, plus a large part of the Central American market. Indy is close enough for fans based on the East Coast, the Midwest and Eastern Canada; Laguna Seca serves the key Bay Area market, as well as Southern California and the Oregon and Washington regions; and Austin is a great location for fans in the South, as well as fans from Mexico and other parts of Central America.

A newly resurfaced track is a solid sign of Indianapolis Motor Speedway's commitment to MotoGP, and as long as Red Bull are willing to pick up the sponsorship tab for the race, IMS appears to be willing to host the event. It would be a very safe bet for a new contract to be signed around the weekend of the Red Bull Indy GP, and probably one for at least another five years. No doubt we will learn more once the end of August approaches.

Below is the press release issued by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway press office:


INFIELD SECTION OF IMS ROAD COURSE TO BE REPAVED THIS SUMMER

World's best riders to race on new surface Aug. 26-28 during Red Bull Indianapolis GP

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, April 21, 2011 - The infield section of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course will be repaved this summer in anticipation of the Red Bull Indianapolis GP MotoGP race Aug. 26-28.

The project, which will repave 1.5 miles of the circuit from Turn 5 through Turn 16, will start Thursday, June 9. Turn 5 is where the course leaves the short chute between Turns 1 and 2 of the oval. Turn 16 is where the circuit leaves the infield near the start of the front straightaway at the exit of Turn 4 of the oval.

It's the first time this section of the course has been resurfaced since it was built in 2000. Turns 1 through 4 of the 2.621-mile circuit - located inside Turn 1 of the oval - were created in 2008 for the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis GP and will not be repaved during this project.

The new asphalt will be consistent with the other sections of the course.

"This project is an example of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway providing competitors the finest racing facilities in the world," said Mel Harder, IMS senior vice president, operations. "We had a very long, hard winter this year, which exacerbated the bumps and cracks in this aging section of the track.

"We also decided to undertake this project this year due to feedback from riders during the Red Bull Indianapolis GP last year. The new surface will produce even closer, more exciting racing for the world's best riders and our loyal fans this August."

The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of June.

"I'm happy to hear the infield section is being repaved at Indy," said 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, who rides for the Ducati Team. "It's already a great track, and I'm sure this will make a smoother, more consistent racetrack for everybody.

"It also shows how the people at IMS pay attention to every detail - that's probably why they've been around over a hundred years. I've always loved it there, as it's my home track. I can't wait to get back to Indy and race in August."

***

2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP tickets: 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP tickets are on sale now.

To buy tickets, visit www.imstix.com, call the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area or visit the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street. Ticket office and phone hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.

The 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP is scheduled for Aug. 26-28 at IMS.

Race Day general admission tickets cost $40, with Friday general admission $10 and Saturday general admission $20. A three-day general admission ticket is $60. A Friday-Saturday general admission ticket is $25.

Children ages 12 and under will be admitted free any of the three days of the event when accompanied by an adult with a general admission ticket.

Race Day reserved seat prices will start at $70.

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Comments

Indianapolis is a bit under pressure since the announcement of Austin GP so they know they have to up their game, and they are, good for them.
Just one minor remark, Mexico is geopolitically considered part of North America (by the US, the EU, the Encyclopedia Britannica and many more countries) though the UN actually consider it part of Central America. So the text "as well as fans from Mexico and other parts of Central America" would be inaccurate in most parts of the world (except the UN headquarters) ;-)

According to my wife - who is very strict about the use of Central America, having lived there (in Guatemala) for a while - says it is in Central America. So I'm siding with the UN and my wife here!

you don't go on saying that in Mexico you'll be fine. I'm siding with my Mexican girlfriend on this one! Sorry for the off-topic conversation.

Hope it does bode well, I love going to Indy each year. Also a plus as I'm doing the Schwantz school at Indy the weekend before the GP. I'll have to thank IMS for the repave for my once-in-a-lifetime experience.

This is encouraging indeed. I travel happily from the east coast to Indy every year. Austin will be a stretch and besides you can still get reasonably close to the action. The US certainly should have three rounds of MotoGP and let's hope the Texas track does not bump Indy.

"and Austin is a great location for fans in the South, as well as fans from Mexico and other parts of Central America."

You have mentioned the draw of fans south of the US border several times. I certainly do not claim to know the size of it's motorcycle racing fandom or of their travel habits, but it would surprise me if more than 10k people came up - from Central America (including Mexico) - to Austin. Perhaps it is the wrong stereotype, but I just do not see people coming up to attend any of the race weekend. Is this my prejudice or my ignorance? Maybe some readers (PIT BULL?) can set me straight.

Really looks like I’ll be able to go to Indy this year. In past years I’ve been to races at Road America and BIR (Brainerd).

RA and BIR, camping at the track is the best way to spend the weekend, vs staying off track at a Hotel.

What about MotoGP at Indy, off site Hotel or infield camping?

Best part about camping at BIR and RA was meeting other race fans, crews and racers themselves at the pit breakfast spots. What is the atmosphere at Indy?

Plenty of camping at Indy, right next to the track. The speedway is north of downtown Indy, but not by much. They do a lot that weekend to cater to bikes - close off streets downtown to all but bikes, lots of different events, the Indy mile dirt track race is that weekend now. Just a mile or so down the road is plenty of food/shopping etc. I've certainly enjoyed the last 3 years.

The sentence "These concerns are at the heart of IMS' resurfacing project, which the Indianapolis facility has addressed by using the same asphalt as is used on the rest of the road course, creating a near uniform surface around the track," presumably drawn from this sentence from the press release, "The new asphalt will be consistent with the other sections of the course," requires some further clarification, if you get the chance to talk to someone on the inside.

One of the big problems with the differing pavement sections is what they did to the oval surface back in 2008.  It is heavily grooved and reinforced underneath in a way that just wouldn't be possible (nor necessary, it seems to me) in the infield section.  There will not be a tire in Bridgestone's inventory able to run race-distance on the equivalent of the oval's surface.

They are probably referring to overall "smoothness" (as in:  no more bumps) rather than the actual surface, which is extraordinarily abrasive.

We are getting them. =)

Seriously though; The USA has an absolutely huge GDP. Couple that with the comparitively slim amount of motorcycle sales (in reference to Asia, etc.), then there is little doubt their aim is market penetration. An eye towards the future, right?

To compare properly, how long has the GP been in Europe and Asia? And in the USA? I think that there is room for growth. And I can't think of a better way to inspire that growth than more GPs (Except by demolishing the SPEED channel and replacing it with a good sports channel/commentators. It's Jorge LORENZO not LORETHO... JESUS!) Maybe that's just me being hopeful that Laguna Seca won't go anywhere.

It actually is Lorentho. He introduced himself at the start of one of the after the flags.

He has also said, when asked that it is Lorenzo which means to me it doesn't really matter so for an American commentator, using the 'th' pronunciation seems pretentious.

No, I don't think we do need 3 GPs. I don't think there's a market for it. It worries me that trying to populate 3 races across the country will result in none of them being well attended.

I kinda figure if the Iberian peninsula is good for five MotoGP's, and Spain alone gets four (for an area that's smaller than the New England section of the US), three races for the United States isn't exactly overdoing it. I live outside of Richmond, VA. Indianapolis is a full one-day's drive (the first year I took two days). Austin would be a two day trip each way. Laguna Seca is definitely three days, one way.

And, other than someone who lives in, probably, Colorado; pretty much every other MotoGP fan in the US, Canada and Mexico is facing the same situation.

i live in méxico and hearing the recent news about the upcoming gp in texas sounds fabulous, is a good iniciative for make more attractive the sport outside the normal sphere of influence.

It's dreaming but a GP race in the automodrome hermanos rodriguez would be great, maybe in the future but's not impossible.

I'll understand than dorna are making business, but four gp's in spain, the sport will be beneficiated if are more publicized out from spain, in Two wheels blog's they say than if Motegi race are cancelled there no replacement race, c'mon dorna gentlemen Portimao reserves the right to make a GP in the circuit, no more races in spain. with 4 are sufficient.

you nailed it...if indy goes away austin and laguna are out of reach for me in Pennsylvania...i cant afford that much time off for travel let alone the air fair...i can drive to indy in a bout 10hours...i think i speak for most gp fans in the east...i dont think any one of three rounds would have little or any impact on eachother...hell look at lagun and indy...indy has been out selling that since 08

but the real question is: would a 3rd GP in the US have an impact on the popularity of the sport in this country?
Is MotoGP more popular in the US since 2008 and the second round at Indy???
It seems to me that most people that don't own a motorcycle still have no idea about what is MotoGP (and they have never watched a single race).

I think Austin will be a fantastic venue for MotoGP. Tex-Mex food, beer, good music, Texas Two-Step, Cowboy Boots, Bolo Ties, pretty women, & sunshine.

I think the Euros will have a ball, and it looks as though they're going all out on making it a nice facility..

Dorna is NOT trying to spread motorcycling around the world. They are trying to extract as much money from television rights, event rights, merchandise licensing etc as they can.

The US is a wealthy country with a large motorcycling population which could mean huge profits for Dorna if they can fully tap the potential MotoGP spectator market.

Spain has 4 GPs because they have a huge motorcycle racing spectator base which equates to lots of money from TV rights, event rights, etc to Dorna.

While you are right about Dorna's desire to maximize profits regardless of the impact on the sport, Dorna are also responsible for organizing events in countries the manufacturers want to target. Even in its current disgraceful state (50% depressed), the US motorcycle market is still one of the most important markets in the world. Dorna may not be interested in spreading motorcycling, but the manufacturers are interested in spreading motorcycling, especially in a country with a faltering national series.

I thought the discussion might benefit from a graphical representation of the drive times to the various tracks under discussion: http://ridetoeat.com/images/trackdrive.gif

The colored lines represent a 10 hour drivetime zone around the track.

Left blue is Laguna, center blue is Indy. Center green is Austin, and right green, just for discussion purposes, is New Jersey Motorsports park. An intriguing number of souls in that 10 hour zone.

Oh, David, regarding "...key markets for MotoGP . . . the Chicago, Detroit and East Coast areas", if anybody at Dorna thinks that Detroit is a key market, they need to clear their cache and refresh their browser. Just sayin' :)