INDIANAPOLIS - May is quite possibly the biggest month in the city, thanks to the return of the Indianapolis 500. But race fans are also eagerly anticipating the “maiden voyage” of another race in the Circle City.
The Inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis is coming up quick, so here’s everything you need to know about this race before it begins for its first time on Saturday, May 10.
What is it?
The Grand Prix is an IndyCar Series race that takes place earlier in May before the 98th-Annual Indy 500 and on a different course: a 2.439-mile road course with both left and right turns.
All in all, the 82-lap, 200-mile race should take roughly 2 hours to complete, unless there is bad weather. In that case, it could be shortened by a few laps or shortened in length of time.
Construction and road crews have been working since last fall to sculpt the road course into parts of the property at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), with parts of the Grand Prix’s road course falling on the main track, and some of it veering off into the middle of the field.
The road course for the Grand Prix has several turns in several different directions, some of them much sharper than the four larger turns you’d find on the main course for the Indy 500.
Another big difference between the Grand Prix and the Indy 500? The Grand Prix will run in the opposite direction, with drivers speeding by in a clockwise pattern, rather than counterclockwise in the Indy 500.
And we're told by IMS that the Grand Prix will begin with a standing start (launching from being stationary) rather than the typical start of the Indy 500, which has drivers compete a slower, mellow lap before speeding up for the first "official" lap of the 500.
That’s just the beginning of the differences between a road course and an oval track. Find other interesting facts about the two different types of courses here. Plus, take a look at the road course map below to see how it differs from the oval track.
Can't see our map? Click or tap here.
When does it all happen?
• Thursday, May 8: Practice Day (Free and open to the public!)
• Friday, May 9: Qualifications (Costs $20 per ticket)
• Saturday, May 10: Race Day (Costs $29.99 per ticket)
• You can buy tickets online here, or the day of the race.
Other good news: IMS officials say they've added new spectator mounds for viewing, with one spokeswoman calling them "fabulous!"
Who will participate in the race?
Twenty-five drivers are included on the official entry list, which was released May 7.
See the full list here .
Take a look at each driver's stats and info here.
How do the qualifying races go?
Qualifying for the race, held the Friday before, is broken down into three segments, progressively narrowing the field to determine the pole winner.
• Segment 1: Each of the two groups receives 10 minutes of track time, inclusive of full-course yellow conditions. The fastest six cars from each group advance to Segment 2, while the remaining cars are assigned positions 13 and upward. These drivers occupy the odd-numbered positions (13, 15, 17...) while Group Two drivers occupy the even-numbered positions (14, 16, 18...) based on their fastest lap times during the segment.
• Segment 2: The 12 advancing cars receive 10 minutes of track time. The fastest six advance to the Firestone Fast Six Shootout, while the remaining six cars are ranked in positions 7 through 12 based on their fastest laps during the segment.
• Firestone Fast Six (Segment 3): The six final advancing cars receive 10 minutes of track time, with a guarantee of five minutes of green flag time. Each car receives one additional set of Firestone Firehawk tires for use during this final segment. At the end of the session, the cars are ranked 1 through 6 based on their fastest laps during the segment.
What kind of trophy will be awarded to the winner of the Grand Prix itself?
IMS had a design contest over this past winter, asking for submissions on the design of the grand champion's trophy. And IMS says it wasn't just any submission that won big.
"A unique and contemporary concept submitted by Dan Nichols of Huntington Beach, Calif., will serve as the inspirational design for the winner's trophy," it reads on the IMS site.
Out of more than 150 submissions, Nichols' design was selected after being a lifelong fan of IndyCar racing.
Although the trophy has not yet been revealed to the public, RTV6 will get a sneak peek at it in the week before the Grand Prix of Indy on May 10.
Curious about the requirements of the trophy-creation contest that Nichols (and others) had to stick to? Find them here.
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