Indianapolis Motor Speedway - 5 Questions With... Joie Chitwood III - Up To Speed

Indianapolis Motor Speedway President/COO Joie Chitwood III

American race fans will have two opportunities to attend a round of the MotoGP World Championship in 2008 with a second event to be held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Though IMS isn't known for two-wheeled competition, it is the most famous racetrack in America (if not the world), and hosting the Red Bull Indianapolis GP at the legendary facility is a great opportunity for exposure to a much wider audience. Here are more details about the event and how it came together, including information on the new road course that will be constructed especially for this event, from IMS President/COO Joie Chitwood III.

1. How was the decision made to bring MotoGP to Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
"I've been out to the [USGP at Laguna Seca], and the energy and the passion for the sport out there really got me thinking about what could happen here, focusing on the East Coast fans. You look at how many folks own motorcycles in America, and there's room for two MotoGP events. The initial contract is for three years, and we hope to see it grow from there. We're really excited by the reception so far."

2. Why was the decision made to reconfigure the track for this race?
"We do not compromise safety here at the speedway. We have a world-class racing property, and we would never do anything that wasn't to the highest standard. We want to make sure the competitors enjoy their experience here and feel very comfortable racing to their fullest potential. Motorcycles have different needs than cars, especially in terms of run-off area. So we made the decision to run the road course in the opposite direction, and to reconstruct certain areas, creating an opportunity of better runoff and increased safety."

3. What is the timeframe for construction, and the estimated cost?
"We'll start as soon as possible-the minute our NASCAR event is done [in late July]. We already have some of the turns behind the museum in place; we just have to realign them a bit. The biggest challenge for us is getting as much as possible done prior to the Indy 500 next spring. We feel that we have an appropriate length of time to do it. Obviously, the investment is significant-we're talking millions of dollars to make the improvements."

4. Will the teams have an opportunity to test at the track prior to the race?
"That's going to depend on the construction schedule. I'm sure from the tire-manufacturing standpoint they'll want to get some testing in, so we'll do everything we can for them to get out there and get prepared."

5. Are there any plans for a Bike Week-type event in conjunction with this race?
"Usually, the events at the speedway transcend the facility and expand into the entire Indianapolis community-we're really proud of that. I'm sure there are going to be other opportunities relating to motorcycles that will arise that week. Who knows what might happen at the fairgrounds, for example. I think this is going to be about much more than just what happens at the speedway."