Final touches being applied to reconfigured road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

7 Comments

The first test of the reconfigured road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is just two days away – and the track is still being tweaked for completion and to be ready as scheduled on Wednesday, according to a report in Sunday’s Indianapolis Star by writer Curt Cavin.

The inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis takes place May 10, two weeks prior to the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25.

As many as 75 workers toiled throughout the weekend, tweaking things such as sod installation, line striping and even final erection of additional grandstand seating, Cavin reported.

“Really, most of it is cosmetic,” track President Doug Boles told Cavin.

One thing that will not be finished by Wednesday, and it’s understandable given how much would likely be rubbed off by cars taking practice laps, is painting of curbs around the race course.

The reconfigured track layout has five modified turns and a fresh coat of asphalt on the infield.

“It’s a new racetrack, it’s a proper racetrack and the best part about it is it’s inside the world’s greatest racetrack,” Ryan Hunter-Reay told Cavin. “(They’re) letting a bunch of IndyCar drivers go at it, and that’s awesome.

“I feel like a kid. I can’t wait to try it out.”

But Sebastien Bourdais, who won the first Brickyard Grand Prix, has his reservations.

“I didn’t see anything wrong with the old track,” he said. “Obviously the IMS guys thought different, so we’ll just have to give it a fair shot and see how it shakes out.

“But they sure spent a lot of money for that, so it better be good.”

Wednesday’s two practice sessions, a two-hour stint in the morning and a three-hour segment in the afternoon, will be preceded a day earlier when 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve and NASCAR star Kurt Busch will spend much of the day practicing on the fabled 2.5-mile oval at IMS.

Both Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s sessions will be open to the public, Cavin noted.

It will be Villeneuve’s first return to Indy since his win there 19 years ago, and Busch will be competing in his first-ever 500, attempting to do the so-called “double” of racing in the 500 in the early afternoon and then heading to Charlotte for that evening’s Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup event.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
Leave a comment

Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.