Diverse INDYCAR Schedule Requires Planning
At first blush, one stretch of the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule stood out to KV Racing Technology-Lotus’ Tom Wurtz.
“Definitely versatile,” he said of the back-to-back-to-back races on an airport circuit, a natural-terrain road course and a short oval.
Wurtz, and other team managers, are charged with the preparation of the cars for the variety pack of events throughout the year and transportation. There’s additional travel involved from the Indianapolis shop for the three transporters in this four-week span – round trip for the race in Edmonton, Alberta (July 24); round trip for the race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Aug. 7); round trip for the race in Loudon, N.H. (Aug. 14).
A caveat for the New Hampshire Motor Speedway – the IZOD IndyCar Series’ first visit to the 1-mile oval since 1998 -- is a practice day Aug. 11 (Thursday), which cuts into turnaround time of transferring the Honda Indy V-8 engines from the road course car of Tony Kanaan, Takuma Sato and E.J. Viso to the oval cars among other items on Wurtz’s check sheet.
Additionally, Sato and Viso are scheduled to participate in testing Aug. 18 at Infineon Raceway in preparation for the Aug. 28 Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, while Kanaan is scheduled to put in a day at Sebring International on Aug. 16.
How to prepare for the demands, including the unknown but likely scenarios involving the repair of damaged equipment?
“You look at it at the start of the year and you hope that by the time you get there you can actually make it work the way you planned,” Sam Schmidt Motorsports team manager Rob Edwards laughed. “Particularly, Mid-Ohio to New Hampshire back to back is difficult because it’s just that – two consecutive weekends at two very different types of tracks.
“Basically, we have the (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins entry for Alex Tagliani) New Hampshire car built back in the shop so that we can go back and spend (Aug. 8) at the shop putting the engine in the New Hampshire car and then leave first thing (Aug. 9) morning for New Hampshire. The shop-based crew will prepare the Mid-Ohio car for Sonoma.”
Martin Plowman, who made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio in the No. 17 Snowball Express/AFS Racing/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, also will test at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 18 in advance of his second of three starts this season.
“In the case of the 17 side, because they’re not competing at New Hampshire, the car will be built. Fortunately, the Mid-Ohio car and the Sonoma car are similar. It’s a lot of travel and planning, and you hope every weekend goes that you can stick with the plan.”