Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles said the month of May at Indianapolis in its current stature could be so much more. So plans to increase exposure for the city, and the bottom line for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have made an IMS road course race for IndyCar all the more likely.
“We started looking candidly and asked, ‘Can take this to another level? What if we could do more with May?’ This will build to the culminating event. What if we could jump start and ignite May,” Miles said at the IMS press conference on Tuesday.
Miles said the two weekends prior to the Indianapolis 500 – which in 2014 will be held May 25 – needed a concerted effort to feel like bigger deals.
“We concluded we needed to concentrate on the weekends,” he said. “Opening weekend, I just had this nagging feel we could do more. We had a great antique car show, practice, and the atmosphere was starting but we asked why not turbocharge it. Let’s bring the best of our worlds together. I feel we need to expose Indianapolis race fans to IndyCar racing.”
That last line is, to this writer’s mind at least, a tad disconcerting considering the high volume of IndyCar fans that live in Indianapolis or the surrounding areas. But perhaps Miles’ point was more that a fair number of fans who attend the Indianapolis 500 do so because it is an iconic cultural event, not necessarily for the race itself.
And additionally, the Indianapolis 500 is blacked out locally in Indy, which removes a local option for fans who may not choose to attend the race in person.
Miles is optimistic this race could expose Indianapolis, and the IndyCar Series, to a greater national level of attention. As Mayor Greg Ballard put it, there is “nothing like the month of May in Indianapolis.”
The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.
With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.
Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.
With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.
“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!
“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”
Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.
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