Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports

September 5, 2013

IndyCar conducts test on road course at IMS

An IndyCar road race at Indy likely in the cards.

The Indiana-polis Motor Speedway is steeped in tradition. There was a time when only one race was held at the famed brickyard, that being the Indy 500. Then, one day in September of 1991 A. J. Foyt filmed a commercial for Craftsman tools at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While filming in the garage area, Foyt, and Speedway president Tony George decided to take Foyt’s NASCAR Winston Cup car for a few laps around the track. Foyt was the first driver to do so, and later on, George himself took a few laps. The event was not planned, and had no implications, but caused some interest and speculation for the future.

That Craftsman commercial led to an “unofficial” compatibility test to see if stock cars would be competitive at the circuit. After an extensive improvement project, on April 14, 1993 Tony George, and the president of NASCAR, Bill France Jr. jointly announced the Inaugural Brickyard 400 would be held Saturday August 6, 1994. There were those open-wheel racing purists that said this would detract from the Indy 500. Looking back to that day, it didn’t impact the tradition so many people lovingly speak of when they talk about Indy — it added to it.

Fast forward to 2000. The first Formula One U.S. Grand Prix was held on the newly-created infield road course. Again, the traditionalists (who eventually accepted NASCAR) lamented that tradition was being messed with. And, once again, they were wrong. An estimated 400,000 fans watched that race in the rain, setting a Formula One attendance record.

Finally, on September 14, 2008, IMS added yet another race to the schedule, this time, a motorcycle race called the Indianapolis MotoGP. This marked the first motorcycle racing event at the facility since its first month of operation, in August 1909. And the purists said nothing because it had been done by the founders before the first Indy 500. Yet, some still grumbled.

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