Most race fans have seen the footage of last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race on the road course at Indianapolis, mainly because the video-replayed crashes and carnage from a curbing malfunction were trending.
Cars flew, and spun, and broke apart and hit each other, as well as the tire wall, and the damage was enough to cause two red flag periods. If you want to read a good article about the race, here’s what Kelly Crandall from racer.com had to say.
But this opinion piece about curbs and the new Podium Club track is more to clarify how we completely understand that A) You only get one chance to make a first impression; B) You absolutely must do everything right the first time; and C) Sh*t happens.
We’ll begin with the promise that the Podium Club tracks, upon completion, will feature permanent, motorcycle-friendly curbing that won’t come up. Our plan continues to be using concrete for the curbs, as part of the actual paved circuit, but if a better option presents itself, we’re all ears.
We must confess though, until some of us watched the NASCAR race at Indy we had no idea there was such a thing as shaped, stamped, and somehow securely attached metal curbing.
This will not be the first time we admit we don’t know what we don’t know. But we understand that things change. We will always keep an eye out how to do things better when better options are revealed, for the circuit, the garages, the homes and store and services — everything.
Our goal is to do it right the first time, because you never get a second chance at making your first impression.
Which brings us to the ‘sh*t happens part.
Roger Penske doesn’t screw up. There is no such thing as too tight a ship for The Captain. And even before he bought it, Indianapolis Motor Speedway was never known to screw up.
IMS President Doug Boles said the delaminated curbing was the same style that had been in place since the track redid the road course seven years ago, when an annual IndyCar race was added to be run in May, before the Indianapolis 500.
“We’ve not ever really had an issue with those curbs at all,” Boles said. “The only curb we ever had an issue with was drivers’ left on exit, which we haven’t seen in a couple of years. We look at that curb between every session. We look at it at night and in the morning. There was no indication earlier today there was even anything wrong with that curb. So, it was a little bit of a surprise for us when during the race we started having an issue.”
At the end of the weekend finale, the first time NASCAR’s premier Cup series headlined a three-feature event featuring IndyCar and the XFinity Series races on the road course, there was obviously an issue.
The first impression of the inaugural ‘Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard powered by Florida Georgia Line,’ replacing the Brickyard 400, and its history and kinship to the Indy 500 as a special race on the world’s most famous oval, was the proverbial turd in the punchbowl.
It was even worse than IndyCar’s debut race through the streets of Nashville. Which again showed, sh*t happens.
Our guess is that the stress of three series running over a three-day period at IMS, including practices, qualifying and the races, exposed new information (failures) about the curbing and its integrity. It will certainly be addressed, researched, and fixed. Because this is how we learn. It’s actually science, and exactly how Roger Penske runs his ship, with no compromises or short cuts.
Which is how we’re building the Podium Club at Attesa.