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Quick Change: IMS Facilities Team Works Tirelessly To Convert Road Course for Bikes
Quick Change: IMS Facilities Team Works Tirelessly To Convert Road Course for Bikes

The addition of 370 new hay bales are only part of the facility changeover completed this week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Yes, this weekend’s MotoAmerica Superbikes at the Brickyard motorcycle event will use a road course as the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR and the Indianapolis 8 Hour sports car event did last weekend, but it won’t be the same circuit. This one is 16 turns over 2.591 miles compared to the 14-turn, 2.439-mile course used by the cars, and that requires a multitude of modifications, mostly to areas within the track’s infield.

At IMS, motorcycles race in the opposite direction as road course cars – counter-clockwise as oval-track racers do. One of the most impacted corners is the one located behind the IMS Hall of Fame Museum: Turn 7 for the cars, Turn 9 for the bikes.

The west-side wall and fencing traveling a quarter-mile down Hulman Boulevard have been moved back 125 feet to allow motorcycle riders a more natural corner exit. Fencing must be disconnected and removed, the concrete barriers adjusted and reset, and the fencing reconnected. It’s the heaviest lift in the changeover.

All of the blue-and-white track curbing around the facility needed to be cleaned and repainted, with new sod laid. Walls have received a fresh coat of white paint, and logos have been replaced. Track lights were repositioned for competitors traveling in a different direction. Hay bales and tire barriers have been strategically placed for rider safety.

The workforce of welders, electricians, painters, mowers, and tire and wall movers has numbered upward of 90, and they began working with a three-hour shift moments after the Indianapolis 8 Hour race ended Sunday at 6 p.m. The changeover effectively ended at midday Thursday.

This isn’t a new task – facility conversion at IMS has occurred annually since the first road race in 2000. In fact, such work has needed to be done five times since July 4, and there’s another changeover to come after MotoAmerica’s event concludes Sunday.

Consider the schedule:

Step 1: Beginning as soon as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and NASCAR Xfinity Series road course races ended July 4, crews changed the configuration back to oval racing for that day’s NASCAR Cup Series race, the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at the Brickyard. Work was completed about 3:30 a.m.

Step 2: Following the “400,” crews changed the layout back to road course configuration for the Ferrari Challenge event that began July 22.

Step 3: In time for the first practice of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Aug. 11, crews changed the facility back to oval-track configuration.

Step 4: To be ready for last weekend’s INDYCAR Harvest GP and the Indianapolis 8 Hour sports car racing event, the course had to be ready for road course action.

Step 5: Since no two road courses are the same, a change in racing direction had to be made to accommodate motorcycles traveling in a counter-clockwise direction for this weekend’s MotoAmerica Superbikes at the Brickyard event.

Step 6: After this weekend, a change back to oval configuration must be made to handle NTT INDYCAR SERIES testing later in the end of the month.

Remember, all this work comes on the heels of the IMS facility department installing a host of upgrades and improvements for the first season of ownership by Penske Entertainment Corp. Those included a reconfiguration of Georgetown Road, repaving of parking lots, the installation of more than 40 new video boards, including the Media Wall in Pagoda Plaza, a new Victory Lane lift, the addition of 5G Ultra Wideband cellular network and the renovation of 125 restrooms.

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