Home » Sports Cars

Grand-Am Test At Indy Raises Hopes for Race

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, September 4 2009
Grand-Am Daytona Prototype cars lined up on the Yard of Bricks at IMS (from left): No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley, No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley, No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara, No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Porsche Coyote. (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Photo by  Ron McQueeney)

Grand-Am Daytona Prototype cars lined up on the Yard of Bricks at IMS (from left): No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley, No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley, No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara, No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Porsche Coyote. (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Photo by Ron McQueeney)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Indianapolis – Do not assume that this week’s test of the infield road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway means that holding a Rolex Grand-American Series race at the world’s most famous track is a done deal.
But also do not rule out the possibility of a sports car race at IMS.

“Right now, we are not looking at it,” IMS spokesman Ron Green said of racing Grand-Am cars at Indy. “But, we have had unofficial talks about it for years with Grand-Am. I think they’d like to come. This test opens the door to that possibility at least.”

Five Daytona Prototype and four GT cars participated in the test. The cars used the 13-turn, 2.534-mile Formula One road course for the two-hour morning session.

The drivers also navigated the 16-turn, 2.621-mile MotoGP layout for the first 15 minutes of the afternoon session before switching back to the Formula One layout for the remaining one hour and 45 minutes.

Taking part in the test were prototype teams and drivers from Telemex Chip Ganassi Racing, Michael Shank Racing, SunTrust Racing, Spirit of Daytona Racing and Gainsco Bob Stallings Racing.

In the GT class, Stevenson Motorsports, TRG Porsche, Speedsource Mazda and Farnbacher Loles Racing took part.

“I’m not going to lie, coming through (oval) Turn 1, backwards, didn’t feel normal at all,” former Indy 500 winner and current driver for Spirit of Daytona, Buddy Rice said. “It’s great to come back here; it’s a beautiful day and it’s great for Grand-Am. It’s a great course, the track’s really wide. To be able to come here and run on the F1 course – obviously nobody thought anything other than F1 cars would run here – we have five DP’s and three GT’s, I think it’s good.”

Also in the test was former 500 driver Scott Pruett.

Pruett said the road course suits the Grand-Am Rolex Series cars well, and just appreciates the opportunity to drive a sports car at IMS.

“The speed – we were just doing about 190 (mph), so that itself is pretty awesome,” Pruett said. “The curbs need to be taller; we’ll be tempted to go over the top of the curbs onto the grass. Other than that, the layout is pretty good. I’m pleased with the flow and the speed.

“Indianapolis is the epitome of motorsports. It’s the center of everything that happens, and I’m proud to be back.”

He said he would love to come back for an actual race.

Could happen, Green said. Perhaps as early as the centennial celebration at IMS in 2011. Perhaps with a true endurance race.

“The test served its purpose,” Green said. “It was a compatibility test.”

And the cars appeared to be compatible with the track.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, September 4 2009
3 Comments

3 Comments »