Though the St. Louis area was under an extreme heat advisory, that did not stop Verizon IndyCar Series driver Charlie Kimball from getting a sneak peek of the newly paved Gateway Motorsports Park racetrack.
Kimball, who drives the No. 83 Tresiba Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing and tested at the track at the series’ open test in early May, was on hand today to take the ceremonial first lap on the new asphalt, which will undergo final touches prior to an Aug. 3 team and tire test ahead of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline race weekend Aug. 25-26.
“It’s fantastic to be able to see the racetrack and see it in progress and be able to appreciate the crew that is laying the asphalt in a 98-, 100-degree day,” Kimball said. “It’s pretty special. It’s great to get the excitement going about the race in August here in late July.”
Kimball drove a Honda road car around the 1.25-mile oval in Madison, Illinois, working his way around construction crews still busily preparing the new surface and providing commentary for media on-site as he gave them a short thrill ride.
“You can really tell the difference between the old paving and the new paving,” Kimball said. “Pit out and pit in are still the old asphalt, and it’s got those seams and patches in it, but when you get onto the new asphalt, it is billiard-table smooth.”
The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 will be a Saturday night feature race under the lights on the track outside St. Louis that has not hosted an Indy car race since 2003. It will be the 15th of 17 races on the 2017 schedule and the final oval. The Verizon IndyCar Series will be joined on race weekend by two of its Mazda Road to Indy support series, the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires and the Indy Lights Championship presented by Cooper Tires.
Kimball, who entered the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2011, will be making his maiden Verizon IndyCar Series start at the track.
“It’s hard to say it’s like anywhere else that I’ve ever raced,” Kimball said. “It’s a little bit like Phoenix, but it doesn’t have a dogleg. Turns 1 and 2 (at Gateway) are such a tighter radius and bigger banking than Turns 3 and 4, that’s like Phoenix, but without the dogleg and almost a paper clip shape. It’s like nowhere else. It’s not like Milwaukee, it’s not like Iowa, it’s hard to say that it’s like anywhere we go, or have gone, in the past few years.”
Indy cars raced at Gateway for seven consecutive years beginning when the facility opened in 1997. The list of winners reads like a who’s who of the sport’s greats: Paul Tracy, Alex Zanardi, Michael Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Al Unser Jr., Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves.
Schedule and ticket information is available at www.gatewaymsp.com/indycar/ or by calling (618) 215-8888. Tickets start at just $35. Children 15 and under receive free general admission with a paid adult. The race airs live at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
Pocono Raceway makes leadership changes
Brandon Igdalsky, Pocono Raceway’s president and chief executive officer, has resigned to take a position with NASCAR as managing director of event marketing and promotion. Looie Mattioli, Pocono Raceway’s chairman of the board, announced that Nick Igdalsky, Brandon’s brother, was elevated to CEO and Ben May was promoted to president.
Pocono Raceway hosts the ABC Supply 500, the 14th race on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, on Aug. 19-20.
“This is a great opportunity for Brandon and we are going to miss him,” Mattioli said. “And we are excited for Nick and Ben. We have a tremendous team here at Pocono Raceway and we look forward to a seamless transition.”
Nick Igdalsky, an accomplished race car driver with experience at several levels, held the role of chief operations officer and senior vice president at Pocono for the past 10 years while also overseeing South Boston Speedway in Virginia. He is the third CEO in Pocono Raceway history. The Igdalskys are grandsons of track founders Drs. Joseph and Rose Mattioli.
“I am very grateful and excited,” said Nick Igdalsky. “I have observed every aspect of the operation here at Pocono Raceway, starting as a 13-year-old, and look forward to working with our incredible team. Our goals remain the same: to create exciting and lifelong experiences at a beautiful and sustainable facility and that will remain our focus.”
May has worked at Pocono for 17 years and served as chief marketing officer since 2014.
Tickets for the ABC Supply 500 are available at poconoraceway.com or by calling (800) RACEWAY.
Beam signed by drivers put in place at Phoenix Raceway
The steel beam signed by the entire field of drivers competing in April’s Verizon IndyCar Series Phoenix Grand Prix and attending fans was installed Wednesday in one of the new redesigned and expanded entrances associated with the Phoenix Raceway Project powered by DC Solar. Those who signed the steel beam will forever see their part of the new Phoenix Raceway, as it will be visible from the top of the new Canyon 1.
The steel beam is part of nearly 250,000 pounds of steel and more than 8,500 square feet of metal decking that will make up Canyon 1. Once completed in 2018, the Canyons will serve as immersive and interactive entrances for fans, featuring vertical transportation by way of escalators that will conveniently and quickly transport them to their seats.
The new entrances are part of a $178 million modernization project that is adding new grandstands, removing old ones, transforming the infield area including the garages and media center, a new pit road, infield fan zone and new pedestrian tunnel underneath the track, creating a new fan midway and moving the 1.022-mile oval’s start/finish line to Turn 2.