IMSA’s Brickyard return is taking shape
The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s first appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 2014 is coming together in a number of positive ways. Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles says Saturday’s Indianapolis Grand Prix IndyCar race was a preview of what fans can look forward to when the 2h40m Battle of the Bricks event goes live September 15-17.
“It’s going really well,” Boles told RACER. “The spectator mound changes that people are seeing today for the GMR Grand Prix were really done for sportscars. We wanted big spectator viewing mounds in the Turns 1-2-3 complex, and if you go out there inside Turn 4, you can see where all the asphalt is laid where we’re going to allow the RVs to pull in and camp inside. Camping sales are going really well because we’ve never really done inside camping at this scale, so we’re excited about that.
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“We’ve had a couple IMSA tests here already with Meyer Shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing has been here, and it’s great to see the GTP cars running. I’ve heard from more fans than I thought I would hear from him about how excited they are that GTP cars are racing at IMS.
“We love the SRO series and the Indy 8 Hour event and their GT cars are awesome, but just to get those the big prototype sports cars back is gonna be a big deal.”
Midwest-based fans of endurance prototype and GT racing will get their first taste of IMSA’s hybrid GTP cars and GT3-based GT machines on the IMSA road course in 2023, and by 2025, the legendary facility owned by Penske Entertainment could play host to IMSA’s international colleagues at the FIA World Endurance Championship.
RACER has learned that interest is held on both sides, and if a deal can be finalized, the WEC, which recently shared the Super Sebring bill with IMSA in March, is expected to return to the Circuit of The Americas in Texas in 2024 ahead of paying its first visit to IMS the following year. Whether IMSA and the WEC would reunite again for another twin bill, or hold separate events, is unclear, but with the unified nature of the shared GTP/LMDh/Hypercar formulas and the upcoming and shared reliance on GT3-based cars across both series, a mega event at Indianapolis would make sense.
A layout change within IMS has moved its vendor midway footprint to a larger and more concentrated area in the shadow of the infield grandstands that line the circuit on run to the road course’s Turn 1 complex. With so many car manufacturers represented in IMSA – many of whom also compete with factory entries in the WEC – the Speedway is preparing for a level of commercial activation from the WeatherTech Championship’s key automotive partners that sets a new standard for IMS.
“It is definitely a new wrinkle for us,” Boles said. “Our official car is Chevrolet, and Chevrolet wants Honda activating here because they’re part of the NTT IndyCar Series. But we don’t have any other manufacturers activating for the Indy 500. Same with the Brickyard weekend; it is really all about Chevrolet. So the IMSA event is the first big weekend where we can get activation and representation from a lot of manufacturers. We will have close to 10 or 12 manufacturers activating in the new midway.
“And then we do have some activation in some of our hospitality suites. A lot of our suites are sold all year long, so some of the folks that have full season suites are going to are going to come, which will be fantastic to have to have them here as well. But this is really the first big event where we’ve been able to say okay, let’s get some other manufacturers involved and they want to be here presenting themselves to the fans at Indianapolis.
“And Chevy will still be in their spot where we always have Chevrolet, and Chevy’s excited about this because now they can compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with three of their divisions with IndyCar, NASCAR, and IMSA, so it works really well for them too. It’s perfect.”