SPEEDWAY – In all reality, it could look the way it did on Thursday morning in May.
Cool temperatures. Steady rain showers. All are typically apart of the month leading up to the Indianapolis 500.
Tony Kanaan knows that well having participated in 12 500-mile races in his career-winning his first just six months ago. But Thursdays’ 48 degree temperatures and moderate to heavy drizzle weren’t an issue for him as he had a unique honor for the over 100-year old track.
The veteran driver became the first to turn a lap on the newly redesigned road course at IMS, taking around a 2013 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car for a few laps in the adverse conditions. With track president J. Douglas Boles in the passenger seat, Kanaan whipped around the new course to get a feel of what may be to come.
“It’s was just about checking out if everything came out the way we wanted it to be and they did a great job,” said Kanaan of the new course. “There are a couple of places that we need to tweak a bit but it’s the early days and that’s why I’m here.”
The 2.605 mile course along the infield was remodeled at a cost of five million dollars this year in anticipation of the first IndyCar Series event on May 10th-the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. To aid the drivers, the course was redesigned to provide more speed and harder breaking zones for the drivers. Typically the course has only been used for Formula 1, Moto GP and Grand Am races since it was built in the late 1990s.
Kanaan’s lap was mostly ceremonial since the final paving of the track took place on Tuesday with IndyCar owner Sarah Fisher. Kanaan’s ride around the speedway was just a chance to check out what the layout has to offer and what changes can be made to help the drivers come May.
“We still need to add the curbs, the track’s gonna look a lot wider once we do that,” said Kanaan. “The chicane, I thought, talking to Doug, was a little too wide so we’re going to try to narrow that down just to slow down a bit.
“But I like it. There’s a couple of good place to pass-that’s what we want-and a very, very fast straightaway.”