Photos From Lights at the Brickyard

We went to Lights at the Brickyard last night. It was a larger, even better display than than the first year of the event. I bought a Speedy pass, which wasn’t really needed. There was only one car ahead of us and not many more were on track when we left. Going mid week definitely is the time to visit if you can.

The best improvements were the lights on the edges of the track, the increase in the number of displays, and they also had an offer of a second lap for $5. I’m not sure if the second lap is available on the weekends. Enjoy the photos.

Gateway Announces Doubleheader- IndyCar and K & N Series Same Day

As if we needed more evidence that Gateway Motorsports gets it, today’s announcement provides it.  Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, and Vintage Racing also return. The two day event will be very similar to a weekend at a road course with non stop action.  More ovals need this type of programming.. The official announcement:

INDYCAR to be joined by NASCAR K&N Pro Series on August 24

November 28, 2018, St. Louis Region – Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois today announced its second doubleheader of the 2019 season: INDYCAR and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series will race on the same track on the same day. The cars and stars of the Indianapolis 500 will be joined by NASCAR’s future heroes on Saturday, August 24, 2019.

All three of NASCAR’s 2018 champions – Joey Logano (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series), Tyler Reddick (Xfinity Series) and Brett Moffitt (NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series) – won their first NASCAR races in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.

Gateway Motorsports Park Executive Vice President and General Manager Chris Blair made the announcement after speedway Owner and CEO Curtis Francois signed the sanctioning agreement.

“Our slogan for 2019 is ‘Action is the attraction’ and this doubleheader will be the second of our 2019 season,” Blair said. “ The combination of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combo race – two races on the same track on the same day – delivers on our promise.”

The first doubleheader of the 2019 season will be the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series-ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards combo on Saturday, June 22.

“We are offering more racing than ever before on our INDYCAR Weekend,” Blair added. “Gateway fans will see the third annual Bommarito Automotive Group 500 INDYCAR race, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, Indy Lights, the Pro Mazda Series and vintage Indy Car racing over one two-day weekend here next year.”

Derek Kraus of Stratford, Wisconsin, won GMP’s inaugural NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combo race, the 2018 Monaco Cocktails Gateway Classic presented by West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.

To purchase tickets or obtain additional information on Gateway Motorsports Park, please call (618) 215-8888 or visit www.gatewaymsp.com. Follow GMP on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

About Gateway Motorsports Park

Gateway Motorsports Park is the home of INDYCAR, NASCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis region. Located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis and covering more than 340 acres, Gateway Motorsports Park is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the area. Gateway Motorsports Park’s facilities include a 1/4-mile drag strip, 1.25-mile superspeedway, 1.6-mile road course, a state-of-the-art karting facility and a 14-acre, multi-purpose dirt off-road venue. Gateway Motorsports Park was the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Facility of the Year Award from the Race Track Business Conference and the 2017 Spirit of St. Louis Award from St. Louis Attractions Association.

IMS Museum Plans Major Renovations- Some Thoughts

The Indianapolis Business Journal reported last week on renovation plans for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. The full article can be read here:

https://www.ibj.com/articles/71234-getting-up-to-speed?v=preview

Highlights of the project, which at this time has no definite timeline or cost projection, include many interactive displays, virtual reality activities, a 3-D theater, and a racing simulator. Costs could run into the 10s of millions of dollars.The building will be double its current size with two wings and a partial third floor. There is talk of  some glass flooring offering a peek into part of the mysterious basement, which only a few outsiders have been privileged to see. For most race fans, the museum basement has been the IMS equivalent of a pharaoh’s tomb.

I think the museum is long overdue for a change. Up until a few years ago, displays rarely changed. The space had remained pretty much as it was when the first museum opened in the building at the corner of 16th and Georgetown. Even with their new approach of special exhibits and the additional display space in the north part of the building, the museum still is far behind other museums. The additional display space has added some improved experience, but they are still limited in what can be done.

I hope that keeping the current winning cars on display  is still part of the plan. I have always found comfort in seeing the cars when I first enter the museum proper. Several of my favorite cars of all time live there. It’s like visiting old friends. Yes, the museum needs to attract new and hopefully repeat repeat visitors. At the same time, they need to remember their older, frequent visitors like me.

On a snowy, rainy day like Indianapolis is having today, I like to go to the museum just to look at the cars. I’m not sure I’d be as tempted to go out to the new version just to hang out. A peaceful, meditative walk through history suits me just fine.

I celebrate the renovation plans, but I ask the people in charge to please consider retaining some of the current place’s charm.

The Pit Window and Wildfire Sports Going to PRI

The Pit Window and Wildfire Sports will be attending the PRI show the first week in December. Look for daily reports on Wildfire Sports and for commentary on the event here at the end of the week.  I’m excited to finally get to this show.

Wickens Update

In a tweet early this evening (Tuesday), Robert Wickens shares his latest progress on the road to recovery. You may need to double click the arrow to start the video. Keep up the great work, Robert.

News From the Other Side of the World- Return to Paradise?

First, The Pit Window wishes Sophia Floersch a speedy recovery from injuries suffered in the Macau F3 race on Sunday. It was one of the most horrifying crashes I’ve ever seen.  That no injuries were life threatening or life altering is amazing. More on this later.

Mark Miles visited Queensland, Australia, to discuss the possibility of Indycar returning to Surfers Paradise in 2020. His trip was triggered by the interest expressed by the Premier of Queensland, Anastacia  Palaszczuk, when Will Power visited on a tour of his native land.  I think this might happen, but my stance is always believe it when it’s official. Think Boston and China.

Indycar had a history in Surfers Paradise as both a season opener and a late season event. Cart/ Champ Car raced in Australia from 1991-2008. The race was held in March from 1991-97. When F1 decided they wanted a March date, the event moved to October. The last race in 2008 was a non points race due to the IRL/ChampCar merger. Will Power won the pole and Ryan Briscoe won the race. Sebastien Bourdais is the only driver to win this event twice, in 2005 and 2007.

Indycars ran on a 2.78 mile track.  The current configuration used mainly by V8 Supercars, is 1.85 miles. Street circuits tend to change as new buildings go up.

Miles has stated many times he would like to begin the season with an international race. Would St. Pete be willing to move their date again and give up their opening spot? The race already moved ahead two weeks a couple years ago. The move created some issues for the Mahafffey Theater and the performances they had booked. The series came to an agreement, but is the theater willing to be as nice a second time?  The St, Pete contract with Indycar believe goes through 2021.

The Floersch Accident

Sunday’s fence-involved crash was different from the Robert Wickens crash at Pocono. Floersch’s car left the track, flying through the fence. The fence dissipated energy and other safety improvements at the track beyond the wall helped minimize injuries.

Given the severity of the two incidents, I hope series world wide take a hard look at current fencing design and how it can be improved. I am not in favor of plexiglass, hockey arena type of protection. I think a rigid bounce back onto the track system creates another set of problems. I plan a further column about this subject early next year after some more research.

Floersch underwent a seven hour surgery Monday. There are no indications of paralysis.

PRI Show

I will be at the Performance Racing Industry  show in Indianapolis December 6,7 and 8. Look for my reports on Wildfire Sports. I may have some comments here, but the bulk of my stories will be on the Wildfire site. The Unsers will be honored at the show.

Last, I wish all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful to all of you. Thanks for making this a record year for The Pit Window.

 

King Joins RLL for the 500

Photo above: Jordan King at Mid Ohio, 2018

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced this morning that Jordan King will drive their third entry in the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. King drove for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2018 as the road/street course driver of the number 20 car. He had hoped to put together a full time ride for this season. King joins Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato on the team for the oval portion of May. He will drive the car Oriol Servia used in this year’s 500. Servia led late in the race until he needed a late splash of fuel.

In 2018, King showed good pace in qualifying. He advanced to the second round six times, twice getting into the Fast Six. His best start was fourth at St. Pete. His best race finish was 11th at Toronto.

A lack of funding has prevented King from landing a full time ride. RLL has also been looking to field a third full time car. King hopes to add more Indycar races to his 2019 schedule. RLL is open to that idea.

COTA Tickets on Sale

Tickets for the Circuit of the Americas Indycar Classic went on sale today. There are four plans available. General admission is $85, Premium Grandstand seats begin at $119. Turn 12 bleachers are $119. There is also a Flex Pass, where fans can choose a different seat for each day. The pass is $189. Paddock Passes are $75. Seems a bit pricey to me, but it is a great track. Austin is a fun city as well.  The track is offering a 10% discount on General Admission until January 3.

I’m excited to return. I attended the first two F1 races. The hill in turn 1 was my favorite viewing spot. You can see some other parts of the circuit from there. The turn 12 stands also presents a good view. The cars come downhill to a left hand corner, then go uphill.