Seeing an IndyCar going the wrong way down the front-stretch of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway takes some getting used to. That much was probably true for everybody that was either at yesterday’s road course test at IMS, or have seen highlights of the affair.
We all know why the test came to fruition in the first place. IMS and INDYCAR officials wanted feedback as they ponder upgrades to the 2.6-mile layout while also considering a possible IZOD IndyCar Series road race at the Speedway for next season.
There have also been some rumblings about an end-of-year showcase on the Indy road course in the early fall, but it’s looking more and more like the IndyCars are leaning toward racing twice next May at the Brickyard.
It’s highly unscientific, but from what I’ve gathered, most folks aren’t opposed to the idea of an IndyCar road race at IMS itself. They just don’t want it in May, as they’re presumably concerned about keeping the traditions of the Indianapolis 500 sacred.
That argument is intriguing to me. Because if IMS and INDYCAR decide to stage a road race as a lead-in to the ‘500,’ would that not just be a re-imagined version of the one tradition that most purists have been upset about losing in recent times – the “Month of May”?
Oh, it wouldn’t be your father or grandfather’s Month of May with the pairing of a road race and the ‘500.’ But your father or grandfather’s Month of May was back in the days when the ‘500’ was the only race at Indy – and, more importantly, didn’t have to deal with the massive entertainment competition that it’s forced to contend with now.
For those that are worried a road race will detract from the month’s main event, just stop for a minute. Don’t you think that after a century, the ‘500’ has enough going for itself – even in American open-wheel racing’s recent state of struggle – to ensure it won’t be overshadowed by a second race in May?
“I know it’s not going to be the ‘500’ – we all know that,” said Graham Rahal, who along with Ryan Briscoe tested out various configurations of the Indy road course yesterday.
“But if we can put on a good show, and get a good crowd and have a good vibe going into the month of May, it would be awesome. Times have changed. What was IndyCar 100 years ago isn’t what IndyCar is today. We have to change with the times.”
Graham, the son of 1986 ‘500’ winner Bobby, gets it. A road race at IMS in May wouldn’t be about ripping traditions apart.
In a perfect world, where INDYCAR is flush with cash and mainstream recognition, perhaps the series wouldn’t have to consider such a race like this. But if changes are made to the Indy road course and a lucrative title sponsor can be found for this potential endeavor, it could all work out nicely.
And, while it’d be in a different form, we’d get our “Month of May” back.