NOLA marks IndyCar’s first race visit to a new permanent circuit in five years

2 Comments

This week’s trip to NOLA Motorsports Park marks a rarity for the Verizon IndyCar Series: it’s the series’ first trip to a new permanent road course, for a race, in five years.

In 2010, IndyCar made its maiden voyage to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., and the event has quickly become a staple on the calendar every April.

Now, this year, the Andretti Sports Marketing-promoted Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana joins the calendar (2:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).

NOLA and Barber are both Alan Wilson-designed tracks, and both have witnessed a bevy of testing prior to the race introduction. Here’s a lap of the NOLA Motorsports Park circuit, from a single camera shot, shot during testing.

IndyCar has had other inaugural or revived events in the intervening five years since Barber joined the calendar, but those have been at street circuits or at tracks where the series has raced previously.

Twice in the last five years, IndyCar has added a road course race on a traditional oval circuit. Last year marked IndyCar’s first Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, to complement the Indianapolis 500 and expand the month of May. IndyCar also made a one-time appearance on the Twin Ring Motegi road course in 2011 following earthquake and tsunami damage to the oval.

Last year’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the IMS road course marked the only inaugural race with the new Dallara DW12 chassis in the car’s three years of service before the introduction of manufacturer aero kits. Races at Pocono, Houston, Detroit and Fontana were all revived in either 2013 or 2012.

Here’s a quick rundown of past inaugural events and past revived races in the last five years, since Barber 2010:

INAUGURAL EVENTS

  • 2014: Grand Prix of Indianapolis, IMS road course (Win: Simon Pagenaud, Pole: Sebastian Saavedra)
  • 2011: Grand Prix of Baltimore, streets of Baltimore (Win: Will Power, Pole: Will Power)
  • 2011: Indy Japan: The Final, Motegi road course, shifted from oval (Win: Scott Dixon, Pole: Scott Dixon)
  • 2010: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, Barber Motorsports Park (Win: Helio Castroneves, Pole: Will Power)
  • 2010: Sao Paulo Indy 300, streets of Sao Paulo, new circuit, and first Brazil race since 2000 CART (Win: Will Power, Pole: Dario Franchitti)

RACES RETURNING AFTER HIATUS

  • 2013: Pocono Indy 400, Pocono Raceway, first Pocono race since 1989 CART (Win: Scott Dixon, Pole: Marco Andretti)
  • 2013: Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston (doubleheader), first Houston races since 2007 Champ Car (Wins: Scott Dixon, Will Power, Poles: Takuma Sato, Helio Castroneves)
  • 2012: Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, first Detroit race since 2008 IndyCar (Win: Scott Dixon, Pole: Scott Dixon)
  • 2012: MAVTV 500, first Auto Club Speedway race since 2005 IndyCar (Win: Ed Carpenter, Pole: Marco Andretti)
  • 2011: MoveThatBlock.com 225, first Loudon race since 1998 IndyCar (Win: Ryan Hunter-Reay, Pole: Dario Franchitti)
  • 2011: Las Vegas Indy World Championships, first Las Vegas race since 2005 Champ Car (Race canceled; Pole: Tony Kanaan)