Indianapolis SCCA Runoffs Course Layout Revealed

TOPEKA, Kan. (December 2, 2016) -- On a mostly rainy Tuesday back in August of 2016, the Sports Car Club of America hosted a half-dozen Club racers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to test multiple road course layouts for the 2017 National Championship Runoffs to be held in September. After a full day exploring seven different configurations, both clockwise and counterclockwise, the SCCA Club Racing Department has reached a decision.

The 2017 Runoffs course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be an exciting 15-turn challenge running 2.592 miles in a clockwise direction. The layout, which can hold up to 72 cars per Runoffs race, consists of ten right-hand and five left-hand turns, as well as a main straight 3,700 feet in length. The racing surface is 45-feet wide in sections with very mild, FIM-approved curbing. Eric Prill, SCCA Vice President and COO, said the Runoffs configuration includes portions of the track previously utilized by Formula One for the U.S. Grand Prix and currently used by the Verizon IndyCar Series for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.   

“The course we selected has a mix of straights, transition corners and long corners. It’s got a little bit of everything. I think it will reward well-rounded drivers and well-rounded vehicles, which is what you want in a championship course,” Prill said. “We have a unique opportunity in 2017 to race at a track where very few will have previous experience. With that in mind, the Speedway’s staff has agreed to make this a Runoffs-only configuration. No other racing organization will use this layout at any point during 2017, which means a level playing field when Runoffs participants arrive in September.”

The six drivers who took part in the test session included Formula 500’s Jeremy Morales, Formula Vee stalwart Lisa Noble, two-time Formula Continental national champion John LaRue, two-time F Production national champion Kevin Ruck, multi-time Runoffs winner Scott Rettich in a Spec Racer Ford Gen3, and two-time Runoffs winner Jason Knuteson in a Spec Miata. A GT-1 car was scheduled to participate, but was withdrawn after sustaining damage in a race two days prior to the test. Prill said each of these invitees agreed to pay their own expenses to partake in the test, with rubber supplied by Hoosier Race Tire.

“All of the participants are very experienced,” Prill noted. “Many of them are national champions or Runoffs frontrunners. They were chosen due to their experience, as well as their proximity to Indianapolis and the type of racecar they drive. We got a lot of great feedback from each of them, as well as a good cross-section of feedback based on car type.”

A Runoffs lap will begin at the “Yard of Bricks” and head north toward a sharp right-hand Turn 1, which is nearly 90 degrees. Turn 2 is a left-hander followed by three flowing right-handers that lead into the long, left-hand Turn 6 loop. The right-hand Turn 6a then brings drivers on to the Hulman Straight. Rettich, who turned laps previously on the Indianapolis road course while involved in USF2000, said this complex will be tricky as drivers search for how best to maximize rolling speed for a good exit on to the straight.

 

“There are a few different lines you can take,” Rettich said about the Turn 6 loop. “You can try to double apex it, you can try to late apex it or you can try to hold your apex down for a while.

 

“There are at least three good passing zones in the Runoffs layout, and then maybe another three or four opportunities to make passes with the track being so wide,” Rettich continued. “There’s really no one ‘section’ that isn’t important for a good lap, but the most important corner will be the final one leading on to the front stretch. That will be essential for good lap times and passing.”

 

 

At the end of Hulman Straight sits Turn 7, a left-hander with two different configuration options. After exploring both possibilities, test subjects agreed the more flowing entry was better than the 90-degree alternative utilized by IndyCar. The lap then continues through the flowing essess of Turn 8 and Turn 9 before navigating the increasing-radius Turn 10 right-hander that leads to the sweeping, right-hand bend of Turn 11 and on to the “short chute” between Turn 1 and Turn 2 of the oval track. The 90-degree, right-hand Turn 12 will then force competitors to slow before facing the left-hander that is Turn 13, where “pit in” is also located. The long, sweeping right-hand Turn 14 is the final corner that brings racers back on to the main straight and headed toward a yard of bricks, which Knuteson said will leave an indelible mark on the minds of Runoffs racers next year.

“What really hits you is when you go across the yard of bricks,” Knuteson said. “When you pull out of the pits, you are overwhelmed by the size of the stands and the facility itself. But when you hear the ‘thump, thump’ as you race over the bricks, I think that was the biggest moment for me.

“This is a ‘bucket list’ track,” Knuteson continued. “If you haven’t been going to the Runoffs for the last two or three years, now is the time to get the cars out of the garage, get them tuned up, get to the U.S. Majors or Hoosier Super Tour and get qualified. SCCA and the staff at Indianapolis Motor Speedway are putting on a top-notch event. It’s one you will not want to miss.”

 

 

While the day was mostly wet during testing, the track did dry out mid-afternoon. But no matter the condition, Knuteson said competitors will be pleased with the racing surface.

“It’s a very well-prepared track,” Knuteson said. “There’s very good grip. Even in the rain, it was really exceptional grip. In the dry it might have so much grip that you’ll have to be careful.”

On a side note, Prill did warn that “racers cannot drive through the gravel traps. The gravel traps stop cars. There is no getting out of the gravel. It’s like quicksand.”

The Sports Car Club of America, Inc., founded in 1944, is a 67,000-member motorsports organization that incorporates all facets of autocross, rally and road racing at both club and professional levels. With headquarters in Topeka, Kansas, the SCCA annually sanctions over 2,000 events through its 115 Regions and professional subsidiary. Much of the SCCA’s activities are made possible with support from the following Official Partners: Chevrolet, the Official Truck of the SCCA; Garmin VIRB, the Official Camera of SCCA; Hawk Performance, the Official Brake Products of SCCA; Mobil 1, the Official Oil of SCCA; SafeRacer, the Official Safety Provider of SCCA; Sunoco, the Official Fuel of SCCA; and Tire Rack, the Official Tire Retailer of SCCA. To learn more, please visit www.scca.com.

 

Photo Credit: Google Earth

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Comments
  • Erik Messley

    I also agree it would have been very nice to have a GT-1/higher horsepower car available at the test. Nobodies "fault" as it was planned to be...just unfortunate.  I also agree with Don Knowles about the 5-6 turn elimination to yield a better racing track (as opposed to a time trial track which would be more fun/challenging as proposed).  Alternatively, or in addition to this 5-6 modification, I believe that the end of the Hulman Straight using the sharper "Indycar" left hand turn 7 would yield much better racing action.  Although the sweeping left hand turn 7 looks very fun from a Time Trialing standpoint, using it greatly inhibits an excellent passing zone opportunity and thus better racing.  I envision many accidents/off course incidents using the sweeping 7 layout.  Both car videos show very light braking/single downshift at the end of the straight indicating that since passing zones are very sparse as proposed, racers will try to force a higher speed 7 entry pass where obviously only 1 car will be capable of exiting at the traveling speeds.  Again, from a Time Trialing standpoint, the sweeping 7 looks very fun and challenging though it appears that Indycar may have the better layout idea.

  • Brian Thomas Himes

    When you look at in car video (Porsche Club) of the track using the kink entering the back straight, you notice curbing in the middle of the track. My guess is most would want to go inboard of the curbing and enforcing staying to the left of the curbing would be difficult with a tight bunch of cars.

  • Chris Forrer

    I agree with Don Knowles.  Please delete the 'new' T6.  'Old' T5 is a fast left-right kink that maintains momentum leading onto the Hulman straight the second longest straight on the course which sets up a great potential passing area at the end which is the 'old' T6.  With the kink the track has a rather nice flow.  My feeling with watching the videos posted that flow pretty much goes away with the 'new' T6.  Also, as noted in the video, the exit for the 'new' T6 will take you way off course to the left to a paved 'runoff' area which is not part of the designated racing surface.  Will this be allowed or will SCCA have to mandate an F1 type rule for track surface boundries?  Just my two cents.

  • Don Knowles

    It would have been helpful to have had the faster GT1 car participate, sorry it crashed. Not SCCA's fault. But--it would help spice up the racing if turns 5-6 were eliminated, creating a second long, fast infield straight--like Daytona or Kansas City and sort of like Homestead. As it is, passing will be limited to the entry of turn 1, while it could have been two passing opportunities per lap, adding another opportunity at turn 7.

  • Preston C. Calvert

    We raced at Indy with IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge in the GS class with a Mustang Boss 302 in 2014.  

    IMSA uses a version of the road course which omits Turns 3, 4, and 5.  It substitutes a fast left-right chicane after Turn 2, feeding directly on to the back straight:

    http://imsatiming.com/Results/2014/CTSC/08-Indy/Indy2014.pdf

    This version of the course omits several slow turns, and is better suited to the faster Touring and GT cars.  Why were no Touring or GT cars included in the SCCA Runoffs track test?  I would have thought that input would be relevant to the layout choice.

    The faster classes should compete on the 'IMSA' course, even if the current choice is preferred by others.  There is precedent for such an approach, with both Mid-Ohio and Lime Rock using different configurations for cars of different speed potential.