Brake Glow

An aspiring motorsports journalist’s personal blog.

Tag Archives: Road America

Road America Returning to 2014 IndyCar Schedule?

As reported yesterday on Twitter, George Bruggenthies is expected to attend the Long Beach round of the IndyCar series in April.

George Bruggenthies, the President of the 4.048-mile Road America circuit, has long been in talks with the IndyCar series to return to the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin track. The two have been unable to come to an agreement since IndyCar merged with Champ Car in early 2008.

Sources suggested Bruggenthies plans to meet with IndyCar officials at the legendary street-circuit layout in Long Beach but would not speak publicly as the information is not yet public.

Road America and IndyCar last hosted talks with then-CEO of IndyCar, Randy Bernard, looking to replace the Chinese round of the calendar that fell through. Talks posed a combined weekend of the American LeMans Series and IndyCar in August of 2012. Ultimately, Bernard decided to do away with the round altogether and, instead, extend the distance of the 2012 season finale at Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, CA, to 500 miles.

With the recently finalized plans to merge the American LeMans Series and the Grand-Am Championship to form United Sports Car Racing in 2014, one can only ponder the massive opportunity Road America may have to host a United Sports Car round alongside of IndyCar next year.

Road America last hosted a major open-wheel race in 2007, the final year of the now-defunct Champ Car series. 4-Time Champ Car champion, and current Dragon Racing driver, Sebastien Bourdais won the race on his way to his final championship in the series.

Check back for more updates as they become available.

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The Only Way Most of Us Live Our Dream: Video Games

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. With its arrival, comes the end of this horrible time for racing fans known as the off-season. I trust most racing fans are a lot like me in that their best way to cope with the downtime between seasons is to turn on the PS3 (or xBox, if you’re one of those), and have at it in a virtual racing world.

For me, I have been a PlayStation boy since its arrival some 15 years ago with only a few PC exceptions. So, for this piece, PS will assume the default medium. Also, with the longevity of a piece like this, it will be broken into multiple segments.

Every year around this time, I find myself wondering what game(s) drivers have in their personal collection, which provides the experience closest to reality. There is little out there that provides insight into this topic, thus why I decided to tackle it. With an interview request pending with Codemasters, the developers of all Formula One games for the past few years, I hope to gather a considerable amount of information on the topic to relay to anyone interested. For now, an examination at the evolution of racing video games must suffice.

For me, I first remember playing various IndyCar and Formula One games on the original Nintendo before the arrival of Nigel Mansell’s World Championship Racing for Super Nintendo. From there, it was IndyCar Racing 2 by Papyrus for PC. That game brought on my first bout with video game addiction. The time I spent, despite my youth and unfamiliarity with the technical aspects, learning every variable was a bit ridiculous. My brother thought he’d screw me up and cover my eyes during one lap. To his surprise, after learning the rhythm of the virtual Long Beach, I never made contact with the wall. I am still proud of that fete.

After IndyCar 2, PlayStation finally arrived. CART World Series was the initial game. The CART game came as close to reality as anything in its time. I always enjoyed it but I was heavily biased towards the game since it lacked Road America. Road America was/is my home track and much love remains for the venue. Luckily, Newman/Haas Racing’s video game provided the track but lost much of the realism that CART had.

Then the F-1 games came back to life. F-1 1998, I marveled at the graphics of rain hitting the screen. F-1 2000 brought back the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis. Hitting the track before drivers were able to was something a kid can get arrogant about.

In between all of the series specific games came Gran Turismo. The Gran Turismo series deserves an article to itself and for that premise will be largely left out here.

F-1 2000 marked the final PlayStation game I had purchased. Then came PlayStation 2. The graphics revolution that came with the new console sucked me in. I was addicted to F-1 2001. And then TOCA Race Car Driver 2 and 3. And then F1 Career Challenge where, for the first time, the player was immersed in the role of a F1 driver new to the series. Starting off at back-marking teams and slowly working the up the hierarchy of teams.

Then, came F1 2009 for the Wii. I reluctantly purchased a Wii simply for that reason. Shortly after my purchase, Codemasters announced the next F1 games for the foreseeable future were to be released primarily for PlayStation 3. So, as one would expect, I purchased a PS3.

So far, the PlayStation 3 has proved to be my best gaming purchase. The quality of graphics remains top-notch even in comparison to xBox 360’s.

The current gaming setup. Amidst a normal cloud of a baby toys sits Daddy's toy.

F1 2010 was the first video game purchased for the new console. That game now compliments the newly added F1 2011. Both games’ purchase led me to purchase my Logitech steering wheel. Ultimately, they will lead to a purchase of a PlaySeat. A PlaySeat is essentially a racing seat with the ability to mount a steering wheel and foot pedals to it. In other words, it is a racing fan’s dream personal arcade.

This evolution of gaming has led to in-home simulators. Games are getting closer and closer to allowing the gamer to enjoy a real-life experience from his home. Games like iRacing provide cutting edge realism, not only in the driving sense but also in the setup of a gamer’s race car. To find out just how real games are going to become and to see what goes into the development of current games, check back here for the next feature. (Provided the interview request is approved.)

Houston, Fort Lauderdale Among IndyCar’s Short List

In a recent interview with Autoweek, IndyCar head Randy Bernard commented on the future of IndyCar’s schedule. Keeping in line with much of the news surrounding additions to the 2012 schedule, Bernard discussed the Milwaukee Mile’s possible return as well as a race through the streets of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The interview with Autoweek was in advance of his Feb 13th “State of the Sport” speech and provided hints as to what the speech may entail. Bernard acknowledged Milwaukee’s return is possible but hangs on additional state and local financial support for the event in West Allis, Wisconsin.

He also recently met with officials from Disney in Orlando regarding a return to “the Mickyard,” the speedway at Walt Disney World where IndyCar held some of its first races. Bernard commented on the massive renovations needed there in order to accommodate an IndyCar return. Among them: the installation of SAFER barriers, and bleacher and asphalt maintenance.

Bernard neglected to go into detail about many of the projects currently under evaluation by IndyCar, but he did mention one other race that looks nearly certain to appear on the 2013 calendar: Houston. Champ Car fans remember the floodlit race through the streets of Houston, Texas promoted by Mike Lanigan. Lanigan promoted several Champ Car events and also went on to partner with Newman/Haas Racing and has since moved on to partner with Rahal-Letterman Racing to form Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing. (Is that too many hyphens?)

Road America was surprisingly left out of the conversation as many expect it to appear on the 2013 schedule. The Baltimore Grand Prix, despite losing its promoter, looks solid. Bernard says he expects to pick a new promoter soon with the best interests of IndyCar and the Grand Prix in mind.

Bernard also touched on car counts for the season. 27 engine contracts have been signed for the season with a few pending. Once the others are secured, Bernard said, “you’re right there at 30.”

The final car counts will come to realization in just over two months as the IndyCar season opens on the streets of St. Petersburg on March 25th.

Milwaukee to Be Added to 2012 IndyCar Schedule?

IndyCar CEO, Randy Bernard, has publicly stated he would like to see a return of the legendary Milwaukee Mile to IndyCar’s 2012 schedule. The suggested date looks for a mid-June weekend. Traditionally, the Mile was always held immediately following the Indy 500.

Despite a possible date two weeks later than normal, one must wonder how much effective promoting of the event could be accomplished. The reasoning behind Milwaukee’s initial departure from the schedule was poor crowds resulting from poor promoting. So, would a last minute addition to the schedule lead to a permanent absence?

Other rumors surrounding the last minute addition of the famed 1-mile oval suggest its addition is a necessity after the mass exodus away from IndyCar’s 1.5-mile ovals following Dan Wheldon’s tragic death at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Currently there are but four ovals slated for 2012: Indianapolis (2.5 miles), Texas (1.5 miles), Iowa (0.875 miles) and AutoClub Speedway (2 miles) in Fontana, CA.

One other reason for the Mile’s potential addition is to cover the typically IndyCar saturated Milwaukee-Chicago market. In the past, IndyCar has run events at both the Milwaukee Mile and Chicagoland Speedway. With neither currently on the schedule, IndyCar might look to hastily put an event in place to satisfy the demographic. The addition of Milwaukee might provide a temporary solution when, in 2013, IndyCar looks to plan a double-header weekend with ALMS at the fan-favorite Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI.

Since the unification of American open-wheel racing in 2008, former Champ Car fans have eagerly awaited a race at the 4.048 mile track through the rolling hills of Wisconsin. Open-wheel’s loss of the track has led to NASCAR’s gain as the Nationwide series has raced there for the past two years.

If IndyCar returns to Road America, the track will be the only in America to host every major racing series in the country: AMA Superbikes, Grand-Am, NASCAR, ALMS, and IndyCar.

Will a permanent departure of the Milwaukee Mile lead to a permanent return of IndyCars to the flowing Road America circuit?

Apologies and some Edmonton notes

Unfortunately I am without internet access this week. I actually came to a McDonald’s just to write a brief blog explaining my absence.

I am in Denver visiting some family. I was, however, able to see the Edmonton race yesterday. Here are a few of my thoughts on the only race north of the border this year.

AGR: What is going on within AGR? Danica had been holding up Marco and TK for quite a while until Marco dove to the inside of Danica and made contact with her left rear. Was it intentional? Kanaan is the team’s best bet for a championship and, if Danica is hurting his chances, I could see Marco trying to redeem himself to TK following their incident at Indy. AGR hosted a closed door meeting following the race, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Bruce Martin. None of the drivers, or team owner, Michael Andretti, were willing to give much detail about the meeting. Conspiracy theories, anyone?

DIXON: Scott Dixon won again on Saturday. Putting him yet another step closer to locking up the championship. The Kiwi’s season would have to take one hell of a plunge for any others to catch him. He seems to be nearly unstoppable.

Another man in red: Justin Wilson also needs to receive some praise for his excellent podium finish this weekend. A nice drive for the Brit.

Toronto and Edmonton?: Ya, sure, you betcha. The Indy Car teams better start taking a liking to that northern accent. The 2009 ICS schedule will indeed include Edmonton, as well as Toronto. Which, to anyone paying attention, should come as no surprise following Andretti-Green’s purchase of the rights of the Toronto Grand Prix.

’09 Schedule: As for the ’09 schedule itself, rumor has it that it could be released as soon as Wednesday. For some reason, I’m not buying that time estimate, though. Also, if you’re still wondering about Road America; like I said when I released some of the rumors I had been hearing, don’t hold your breath. I would love to see the 4.048-mile road course return, but I haven’t heard a peep about it for a while now. Potentially 2010 or 2011. Here’s to wishful thinking.

Tracy: If Paul Tracy’s fourth place finish didn’t draw any body’s attention, I don’t know what will. For this being a one-off ride, from a team that was assembled with something like 9 days before the event itself, it was an immaculate drive. He’s a great publictiy asset, and (apparently) still driver with a lot of talent. Subway, keep sending a check to Derrick Walker so he can keep Paul fielded in an Indy Car.

As for me, it’s back on the road. Leaving Denver for a few days of bumming around the southwest. If I run into any internet connections, I will make sure to keep everyone posted on the latest happenings around the Indy Car paddock. If not, I will talk to you all next weekend when I return.

Zach