Reliant Stadium Park Overhead

Sebastien Bourdais says he’s looking forward to the challenge of racing again on the concrete surface of Reliant Park in October 2013.

Bourdais won the 2006 and ’07 Champ Car World Series races on the 1.7-mile, 10-turn circuit that is part of the Reliant Park complex in downtown Houston. Dario Franchitti (1998) won the inaugural race. Other winners included Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser and Gil de Ferran.

“We have had our share of success in Houston so I’m happy to see it back on the schedule,” said Bourdais, who will compete this weekend in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in the No. 7 Lotus Dragon Racing car.  “I’m looking forward to the challenge.  It’s a really hard course.  It’s what we call concrete racing and it’s not easy.  Houston is a good market for INDYCAR and is a very positive thing for the series.” 

INDYCAR president of operations and strategy Brian Barnhart toured the complex March 28 and was impressed with the infrastructure and venue for racing and the spectators. Houston is the fourth-largest market in the nation.

“Aside from the size of the market and what it brings, to be in the Reliant Park complex – it’s history and they’ve got some tremendous plans for renovating the Astrodome, which is part of this complex – is just a phenomenal venue that will be great because it’s so convenient and well-packaged,” said Barnhart, who used to take in major league games at the Astrodome while working for A.J. Foyt Racing in nearby Waller, Texas.

The concrete surface will present challenges to teams, drivers for setting up the car and adjusting to their car’s handling characteristics as the Firestone Firehawks wear on the concrete surface.

 “They’ve ground a lot of areas (of the circuit) and there might be a couple of other areas that we might like to tweak,” he said. “It will be physical and rough and will challenge everybody involved.”