A couple of years ago, a hot topic of heated controversy and immutable opinions revolved around whether it would be a good idea to add a weekend at the IMS road course to the IndyCar schedule. Many said “yes”, because more races are better than less, IndyCar’s local fan base in Indianapolis will automatically offer attendance, and time spent at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is always a wonderful thing. Others said “no”, citing reasons including lack of attendance, since local fans may need to choose either the Indy 500 or the Grand Prix (a mindless decision for most), and the fact that IndyCar’s involvement at IMS should only include the Indy 500, for tradition’s sake.
Originally, I was one who thought that the Grand Prix of Indianapolis was a fated failure. I have happily been proven wrong.
It’s hard to imagine a fan not upset by the condensing of the month of May. Adding the GP of Indy to re-lengthen the month of May and kick off the excitement was a bold, yet successful move. As a fan, I had the time of my life, both this year and the last, taking advantage of more time trackside, and experiencing IMS in a new sense. The grid-walk offered to bronze badge holders gave me one of my top 2014 moments, and was somehow an even more incredible experience this year. I’ve wondered for years what it must be like to walk in a driver’s shoes before the start of a race; this opportunity gives fans a look at a bird’s eye view. It is generally understood that this is not a time for pictures and autographs, but the chance to physically walk alongside the drivers as they get set to go racing is a beyond-words type of experience.
Nostalgia aside, attendance seemed a non-issue judging from the looks of the packed spectator mounds and oval turn 4 grandstands, though I expect that the crowd was a bit smaller this year without the appeal of an inaugural event. Further, the addition of the GP serves as a boost for Indy 500 ticket sales.
Personally, my biggest initial concern to the addition of the GP was to the marketing of such an event. I felt that if an extra race at IMS would be added, it should be marketed as it’s own event, and not one that was meant to equal the 500. To my satisfaction, the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis acts as the perfect complement to the month of May. It is certainly different from the 500 in terms of formality, environment, and hype, but brings a renewed appreciation to the facility, and creates a more integrated month of May experience.
Here are some of my favorite photos from yesterday’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis!