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Indianapolis Raceway Park

Indianapolis Raceway Park is that rarity, an active race track which remains on good terms with its close residential neighbors and has done so for over 30 years of operation. IRP is owned by the NHRA, and contains a dragstrip, a 5/8 mile paved oval, and the road course. Spectator and televised events are run each year at all three tracks in the facility. Perhaps the most famous IRP event is the evening of USAC oval track racing offered the night before the Indianapolis 500 (which is held at an obscure facility in nearby Speedway, Indiana.)

Major portions of this page were contributed by Mark Shumaker. Click here for general information on how his pages are set up. Bob Burns contributed the most recent updates.

Last Updated: 2005-03-27

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Track Office

Indianapolis Raceway Park
10267 East U.S. Highway 136
Indianapolis IN 46234

317-291-4090 (office)

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Getting There

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The track is about 25 miles west of downtown Indianapolis, just west of Clermont, with the competitor entrance (Gate 8) on Hunter Road (County Road 1000E) about a mile south of US-136, along the western edge of the track property. The railroad crossing on Hunter Road has recently been provided with lights and a gate.

Registration may be in a tent along the access road inside the track, or may be in the medical building to the southeast.

Racer's Guide to Indianapolis Raceway Park

The Paddock

IRP's competitor facilities are quite good. There are two main paddock areas; both are west of the front straight and north of the dragstrip grandstand. The South paddock is inside an interior fenced-in area and has paved or gravelled access roads; the North paddock is all grass with limited access roads, north of the medical building and Tech area. It is not necessary to cross the track to enter or leave either of the paddocks. Tech is held on the south side of the large building at the northwest corner of the interior fenced-in area (it's significantly uphill if you're pushing the car by hand). The pits are located at the south end of the main straight along the dragstrip, in front of the grandstand, and are a relatively long walk from either paddock area.

The food concession building at the east side of the South paddock contains flush toilets, wash basins, and showers. The floor of this part of the building is below grade, however, and tends to collect water and mud. The cafeteria in this building serves food which is usually good, and usually one or more hot sandwich carts are set up on the grounds. There are no permanent fueling provisions, but racing gas has always been available at the track for SCCA Nationals and Regionals, usually from a truck located on the paved area south of the concession building; air is available from the tire concessions, usually located on the paved area east of the food concession building.

Hot Lap

The IRP road course is a high-speed 2.5-mile 15-turn course, wide and with little elevation change, using parts of the drag strip, shutdown area, and staging area. CSR cars using four gears in a five-speed gearbox reach speeds around 140 MPH going into Turn 1, and take the slowest corner at around 70 MPH. The track surface is quite rough in several areas from Turn 5 through Turn 11, and runoff areas are sharply limited around Turns 5, 12, and 15. Apexes and exits of most turns have ruts just off the track surface, but it is generally safe to pull a low ground-clearance car off the track elsewhere.

What follows is a generic description of the track, describing its features without defining speeds, gears, or shift points -- all of which will vary widely from car type to car type.

Few of the turns at this track are sufficiently separated by straight segments to be treated as isolated turns; IRP contains more sets of clustered turns (where your line through or out of a turn must be modified to accomodate the requirements of the next turn or the one after it) than any other track I can recall running -- there are only five corners that can successfully be treated in isolation. Because of the number of clustered turns, and because some of the isolated turns are themselves very close together, you have to work hard at IRP; there are only two or three places on the track where you can relax a little and check your instruments.

The false grid for all sessions is along the pit access road between the pits and the grandstand. You must be able to back into the proper slot in the false grid; if you do not have a working reverse gear you will need someone along to push the car. You will proceed south along the pit lane and make a tight U-turn onto the pit lane for practice and qualifying, a less tight U-turn onto the track for the race.

The starter's stand is often not visible to the end of the pack at starts, but the front straight is wide enough that there is seldom a problem from unexpected wave-offs. Get over to the left edge of the track when it is convenient to do so. Turn 1 is a very high-speed flat 90-degree sweeping right-hand turn, followed by a short straight and another right-hand turn. There's a lot of passing from sheer speed differential at the end of the front straight, but entering Turn 1 side-by-side at speed is a dangerous manouver, especiially so if you're on the outside. When everything is working right, you should aspire to enter Turn 1 at full speed and without lifting, letting the friction of the turn slow you enough that you can enter Turn 2 also without lifting -- but not all cars can do this and you should work up to it. There is a lot of runoff area outside Turn 1; it's reasonably flat but there's a noticeable dropoff just at the track edge.

The sound measurements are taken between Turns 1 and 2 on the inside of the track.

Turn 2 is a flat high-speed 60-degree right-hand turn which should slow you just enough that you will likely want to downshift one gear before entering Turn 3; your normal track position at the exit of Turn 2 is correct for entering Turn 3. There is a tunnel under the short straight between Turns 2 and 3; if you really blow Turn 2 big-time you might end up in it.

You now enter the first of the turn clusters, from Turn 3 through Turn 5. Turn 3 is a fast flat 90-degree right-hand turn followed closely by Turn 4, a fast 120-degree left-hand sweeper and a short uphill straight into Turn 5, a slightly off-camber partly-blind fast 45-degree right-hand turn. After leaving Turn 3, move back to the right for a proper entry into Turn 4; you may have to leave some space at the left edge of the exit of 3 to get back to the right soon enough for the entry to 4. You've got to balance your Turn 4 exit speed and track position against the requirement for a late and tight apex in Turn 5. This is commonly done by taking a late apex in Turn 4 and heading more or less straight toward the apex of Turn 5, with as much of a left-right S-bend as you can manage. Turn 5 is tricky, since the track goes from clearly uphill to slightly downhill right about at the apex. Turn 5 is also dangerous; a too-early apex in Turn 4 may put you into the wall at the inside of 5, and a too-early apex in Turn 5 may put you off on the grass at the outside of the turn, which slopes down to the trees and fence at the edge of the track property.

There is a longish slightly downhill straight after Turn 5 which leads into the next cluster of turns in the drag strip staging area, Turns 6 through 8. Turn 6 is a fairly high-speed flat 135-degree right-hand turn followed closely by Turn 7, a fast 90-degree left-hand turn, then Turn 8, a very vast 45-degree right-hand kink. You've usually got to modify your lines through Turn 6 and 7 to set up for Turn 8, where a high exit speed is the most important part of the turn cluster. The apex of Turn 8 has a very severe bump, you may have to adjust your line to actual apex a couple of feet to the left to avoid unsettling or damaging your car on this bump.

Following Turn 8 is a short straight laid out in pylons. The pylons will be disturbed during every session, so be on the lookout for those which come to rest on the racing line. Following this little straight is another cluster, Turns 9 through 11. Turn 9 is a high-speed slightly downhill 90-degree right-hand turn; you must make a very late apex and/or stay a little toward the right side of the track at the exit to set up properly for the closely following high-speed jog (Turns 10 and 11) to the left.

The track then goes uphill slightly and straight into Turn 12, a flat moderate-speed 180-degree right-hand sweeper followed closely by Turns 13 and 14, a fast jog to the right leading to the braking area for Turn 15. Turns 12 and 14 each leave the car properly positioned for the following turn.

Turn 15 is the single most important turn at IRP. It's a narrow slightly-banked increasing-radius 180-degree left-hand turn out onto the front straight, and must be taken exactly right to assure high speed down that straight and into Turn 1. There are concrete barriers closing off part of the right-hand surface at the entry to the drag strip, so it is imperative that you do not take an early apex. The pit lane is entered by keeping well to the left through Turn 10.

At the north end of the pit lane, you enter the track by keeping to the right; you re-enter the paddock by keeping to the left. Impound is reached by bearing to the left and then taking the middle roadway north past the tower and scales and then doing a very tight U-turn.

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