The NTT INDYCAR SERIES takes a short breather this week, with the Honda Indy Toronto, a popular street circuit, next on the calendar July 22-24.
That race begins a stretch of five events in 22 days. With two street circuits and a permanent road course included, INDYCAR.com has offered two veteran motorsports writers the license to design their ideal track map from aspects of the current NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule. No boundaries were given, although it needs to have some form of logical flow.
Trust us, it’s not easy, but it sure is fun.
The following was compiled by Curt Cavin. Friday, it will be Paul Kelly’s turn.
Road America’s Front Straight: To me, this is the best non-oval start in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. It’s a hellaciously long, uphill approach to the flag stand, and then the sprint to Turn 1 feels like forever. By the time the field hits Turn 1, everyone has had time to grab tight hold of the steering wheel.
Long Beach’s Turn 2 and 3: Every good first turn should have a scene-setting section to follow, and what amounts a chicane around the fountain at Long Beach is just that. It’s an iconic image, and a left-right-left tester at that. The camera shots from there are superb.
Detroit Turn 3: Now, give the field a mid-size run to stretch the legs, and the approach to Turn 3 at Belle Isle Park does that. This left-handed corner is inviting, which all good corners should be. Don’t overlook how cool the previous twitchy corner is in Detroit.
Portland Turn 9 or Road America’s Kink: Either one works as the cars build speed over the next lengthy stretch. Both sections are wicked fast; I give the nod here to Portland’s because Road America’s gets plenty of praise from the competitors, broadcasters and fans.
Long Beach Between Turns 8 and 9: Noted here is the intoxicating roar the cars make as they pass under the bridge and between the buildings. There is no sound like it in this series, the closest thing North America has to Monaco.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course Turns 5-6: A long straight should have a quick left-right combo to serve as a chicane, and Indy’s road course has that in dramatic fashion. This section is fast and fierce, and it really showcases the nimbleness of these cars.
Barber Motorsports Park Turn 1: After the long run we’ve had the cars on, let’s send them barreling into this beautiful Alabama corner featuring a dramatic elevation drop and the carousel that follows in Turns 2 and 3. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say how much I like the blind cresting of the ridge in Turn 3.
Nashville Turn 11: Now it’s time for another long straight. Cross the Veterans Memorial Bridge, where this year’s race will start, and go charging toward this inviting, but potentially detrimental, left turn. Remember how it collected several cars in last year’s inaugural event? Colton Herta certainly does.
St. Petersburg Turn 10: Drivers now need time to catch their breath. The quick lefty next to the stadium in St. Pete serves as a nice setup for the heavy braking zone that turns the action onto Dan Wheldon Way. The grandstand that faces it is a great place to watch race cars in the warm spring sunshine.
Toronto Turn 3: The next lengthy section is a Lake Shore Boulevard sprint toward my favorite corner at Exhibition Place. From the grandstand on driver’s right, the corner seems impossible to make: Seemingly bending beyond 90 degrees, off camber and uphill. Love that corner.
Laguna Seca Corkscrew: Since we’ve got the field experiencing significant elevation change, why not drop them down the hill at Turn 8? It’s the most famous road course corner in North American racing, and it’s a monster of a twisting 10-story drop to Turn 9.
Road America’s Canada Corner: Next to the Corkscrew, the in-the-woods approach to Turn 12 is the most beautiful. Sit there sometime and listen to the roar as the cars come into view. If the corner wasn’t special enough, it’s the run up through Thunder Valley, where cars get light in Turn 13 and wheels often lift off the ground. That’s where I’d put the finish line of this dream circuit.