SPEEDWAY – It appeared in 2011 that the top level of motorcycle racing in the world would be in Indianapolis for at least three more years.
But two years of down attendance has away of making that length of contract go just a bit shorter.
So there is a real chance that the motorcycles that zipped around the infield course for practice on Friday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will not return for the same August event a year from now. Both sides of the equasion-Hulman and Company along with Dorna-have hinted at such a possibility over the past few months.
There are rumblings that Nicky Hayden has heard as he prepares for what essentially is his home race on Sunday at the Indianapolis GP. The rider, who won the Moto GP World Championship in 2006, grew up just three hours south of the track in Owensboro, Kentucky.
Obviously, he is hoping that does not come to pass.
“It’s practically in my back yard,” said Hayden of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I’d be a fool not to want to come back to Indy. It’s too nice for me and for my friends and family who can’t just pack up and travel around the world every week to watch me race.
“This one they can get to.”
That list sits at three for the Hayden family and other American Moto GP fans. At the moment the Indianapolis Grand Prix is one of three in the United States along with events in Austin and Laguna Seca, which took place earlier in Moto GP’s 18-race schedule. What makes the speedway unique is that it’s the only event that is staged at a traditional oval racetrack, which creates its difficulties for the series who normally race on tracks designed with motorcycles in mind.
American rider Ben Spies, who returns to the bike this weekend after missing most of the last year due to injury, says the course has challenges but the atmosphere makes it a venue worth staying.
“The track’s a little bit hard for us, it’s not a real motorcycle track but I enjoy the track and I’ve done really well here so I like it,” said Spies of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “For the typical road race tracks it’s a little bit tight and slippery and things like that. But I know they (other Moto GP riders) like the atmosphere, the fans and the city and everything.
“So I would say they like the weekend for sure.”
Hayden has throughout his career thanks to his success at the venue-having been on the podium twice in the five previous runnings of the Indianapolis Grand Prix. Like Spies, Hayden understands the challenges of the track but believes the prestige and history of the speedway make it worthy of staying in the circuit.
“I know a lot of people in the paddock do hope we come back,” said Hayden. “It is a little bit of a different race track for motorcycles because it’s in an oval but it’s a really unique place.”