Taking notice of newer stadiums’ bigger amenities, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is targeting ways to improve the at-track experience for fans coming to this month’s Indianapolis 500 and its other events as well.
Part of that effort has included the removal of almost 10 percent of the Brickyard’s seating capacity, most of that number coming from the Turn 3 grandstand and the front straightaway according to The Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin. Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles is also looking at adding cushioned seats in some locations and creating a number of “party decks” overlooking the track that can stage group entertainment.
It would appear that IMS has been taking notes following the 2008 debut of Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts and the host of Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. Among other things, the stadium features 137 luxury suites, a pair of multi-level club lounges, and 14 escalators to help fans get around.
While completely matching that may be out of the question for the Speedway, its organization still knows that it must create an easier, more enjoyable outing for fans — especially those who have become used to the creature comforts of Lucas Oil Stadium and other recently-built stadiums around the country.
“I don’t know that we can have amenities that match Lucas Oil [Stadium], but we have to look at the whole seating mix and how do we optimize it,” Miles said to The Star.
MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.
Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
- 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
- 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish
Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.
While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.
Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.
Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.
In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.