News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports Columns

September 10, 2009

Trackside: IMS considering adding endurance racing

TERRE HAUTE — The ever-changing ways at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have taken on yet another surprising twist.

The mecca of oval track racing has once again opened its gates to road racing.

First it was Formula One, then MotoGP for the motorcycles, and now American sports car racing may have found a new home at IMS.

The drivers and cars of the Grand Am series made their test debut at at the Speedway last week. Five Daytona Prototypes and four GT touring cars conducted a pair of two-hour test sessions.

The tests were staged before a surprisingly strong spectator turnout that lined the fences at designated viewing locations.

While Speedway officials were reluctant to make any solid comittments regarding a possible date for the sports cars, the organization made the best of its invite and voiced optimism they would get the chance to race at IMS in the not-too-distant future.

If the Grand Am series would land a date, the show would likely be an endurance type event, the trademark of the NASCAR-backed series.

While the names of the Grand Am series are virtual unknown outside of road racing, the circuit frequently lures drivers from other series.

Several were on hand taking their turns behind the wheel on the F1 layout. Buddy Rice and Ed Carpenter joined former Indy car driver Scott Pruett posting laps.

Pruett, a front runner in the GA, is no stranger to IMS, having competed in four Indy 500s. He welcomes a chance to return to Indy.

“I’ve been fortunate to have run on the oval in the Indy cars and NASCAR. To come back here in a sports car is awesome,” Pruett said just prior to taking to the 2.534-mile, 13-turn road course.

“The reality is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the racing capital of the world. I think we can come in here offer the fans the ultimate in sports car racing,” Pruett said.

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