For only the second time in the track’s history, an IZOD IndyCar Series car will turn laps on the infield road course of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when driver Graham Rahal puts the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car through a series of test runs Sept. 4.
The test is being organized by IMS and INDYCAR officials to gather information about the current course layout as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway considers changes and upgrades to the track. Speedway officials plan to invest nearly $100 million in the facility as part of a long term master plan that could include modifications to the road course to allow it to accommodate INDYCAR testing or racing in the future.
“We are looking forward to seeing an INDYCAR run on the IMS road course and using the information to help refine the investment we are planning to make to the track portion of our overall facility planning,” said J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president.
“As we look to the future of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the goal is to make changes to the road course that provide the most flexibility for its potential use and create a layout that is entertaining for our fans and enjoyable for our drivers – whether it is for INDYCAR testing or racing, sports cars, MotoGP or other uses.”
Boles noted that no decision has been made about a future INDYCAR race on the road course. Spectators can watch the test day from the South Terrace grandstand and Turn 2 viewing mounds.
Rahal, who competed on the IMS road course in Formula BMW and Indy Lights, is looking forward to the opportunity to test following the Sept. 1 Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT.
“Anytime a driver can take laps at Indianapolis, even on the road course, it is a special day and I am happy to have been asked to be part of this test and to provide some input on how an INDYCAR might perform at IMS,” said Rahal, who earned the pole and finished second in the 2006 Firestone Indy Lights race on the road course. “I have raced on the road course at IMS so I already have a good idea of what to expect in an INDYCAR over most of the track. It will be particularly interesting to run the car on different portions of the track, including the turn one road course section.”
IZOD IndyCar Series president of competition and operations Derrick Walker said he expects to have Rahal test several configurations of the road course, which will include utilizing Turn 1of the 2.5-mile oval, and the existing Turn 1 of the road course. Firestone Racing will have three tire options.
“It is important to look at all possibilities that we have in the existing layout to gain as much information as we can about how the car will perform and what changes we can offer to make it more competitive,” Walker said. “In addition to considering a potential race on the IMS road course at some point in the future, one of the advantages of maximizing the current road course layout could be a future testing opportunity for INDYCAR teams, especially since so many are based in Indianapolis.”
The only other time an IndyCar was tested on the IMS road course was in the fall of 2011 when two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon tested the current IZOD IndyCar Series Dallara chassis that debuted in 2012. Wheldon ran the 13-corner layout in clockwise direction only during the test session, which was used to develop the car, not for track information purposes.