IndyCar testing on-board LED lights at Barber this week

4 Comments

A technology pioneered in sports car racing – LED lighting to display driver running order – is coming to the Verizon IndyCar Series, first in testing this week at Barber Motorsports Park with an eye to debuting them on-track this season.

The full release and further details from INDYCAR are below:

This week at Barber Motorsports Park, INDYCAR is testing new technology that will track each car’s position on the racetrack and display it in real time via a LED display panel on each side of the chassis. The series is targeting the implementation of the track positioning system, which will also display when a driver triggers the push-to-pass feature, for early in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

“This project started over a year ago in concept and it really is about how we can get fans more engaged, allow them to see more of what’s going on,” said INDYCAR president of competition and operations Derrick Walker. “If you’re not in line of sight of a video screen or a scoring pylon, it’s hard to know who’s doing what. It was a natural to do the numbering system.”

The 8-inch-wide by 7-inch-tall LED panels, which are only 3 millimeters thick, will be attached to either side of the airbox (below the cockpit camera mount) on each entry. Running order will be updated as the car crosses each of the multiple INDYCAR Timing & Scoring timelines around a racetrack.

“The LED displays are driven from a controller that is hooked into the car network,” said INDYCAR director of Timing & Scoring Jon Koskey. “The controller can talk to the car ECU and pick up information live, so as a timeline is hit that information is put on the car network immediately. You’ll see how many positions each car gained or lost live on any given lap. Red is the primary color and green will be used for the push-to-pass, which will be displayed as a pattern. Brightness of the LEDs will be modulated according to the setting.”

INDYCAR will continue to develop the technology, including adjustments to the brightness of the display, based upon multiple factors.

“We had to take into consideration the brightness of the lights because this new LED technology is extremely bright,” Koskey said. “At night you don’t have to run it at full intensity. We can make modifications to the light panels in real time through the timelines by sending control codes. There are four levels of brightness, so we put into the system what we want. When the cars come into pit lane that display is going to be right in the fuel filler’s face, so using the car data we programmed in that when the car drops below 10 mph it will dim to 25 percent. We’re putting functionality into play. We have room down the road to do others things with it.”

Additional options are also being considered, including adding an additional color, to expand the functionality.

“There are other things we can do with it as we look down the road,” Walker said. “We’ll start off small and get the fans engaged and understanding what it is doing. It’s all about the fan experience.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.