Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Jack Hawksworth has taken control of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis after its inaugural running on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course began with a violent crash at the standing start.
Hawksworth started on the front row alongside pole sitter Sebastian Saavedra, but when the lights went out to begin the race, Saavedra stalled and was hit from behind by Carlos Munoz and then Mikhail Aleshin.
Mike Conway sustained some damage in the incident but has since returned to action, albeit well off the pace. Juan Pablo Montoya also stalled on the start but avoided the crash and has put himself into the Top 10.
After an extended clean-up period to corral debris, Ryan Hunter-Reay led the field to the green flag at Lap 8 and almost immediately, a free-for-all ensued up and down the 2.4-mile road course as cars went two and even three-wide for position off the restart.
One lap later, Hawksworth went to the inside of Hunter-Reay at the right-hand Turn 1 and took the lead away from the former series champion.
A few turns later, Simon Pagenaud peeled second off of Hunter-Reay, and that was the order of the Top 3 for the rest of the stint as Hawksworth began what has been an impressive drive so far.
Hawksworth pitted from the lead on Lap 29, but got it back when Dale Coyne Racing teammates Justin Wilson and Carlos Huertas pitted together from first and second on Lap 32 to end the pit cycle under green.
At the halfway point, Hawksworth had opened up a lead on Pagenaud of almost four seconds, while Hunter-Reay again settled in third. On Lap 42, a battle for fourth between Will Power and Scott Dixon ended with Dixon going into the runoff area, triggering a full-course caution.
In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.
Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.
Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.
The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.
“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”
Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.
SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.
When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.
SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.
Read more about SuperMotocross