Video: This is why IndyCar needs airfield tracks back

11th March 2024
Ben Miles

IndyCar does race on some tracks that could be classified as airfield circuits. But they are more in the style of Goodwood as an airfield circuit, or just clipping a part of it. Take St. Petersburg this weekend, which uses one of the runways.

But back in the 1990s and 2000s there used to be several circuits that were totally laid out around airports. Just wide open tarmac tracks made up of runways and taxiways. Areas at times so wide that it was disorientating for the drivers. Imagine trying to pick a braking point when the track is 50m wide and has no apparent end in front.

Take Cleveland, and the Lakefront Airport track. IndyCar raced here for several years, and as this onboard with Alex Tagliani will show, it really did just rave around the wide expanse of tarmac.

But that was the beauty of these tracks. Not only were they very fast but they had challenges of their own. They required strong concentration from drivers and were the opposite of some modern pool table flat circuits. Drivers were buffeted and bumped around, and as is the case with the 2002 clip, had to use a sequential, stick-shift gearbox.

IndyCar is going from strength to strength at the moment. Part of the joy is the wonderful mix of street circuits, road courses and ovals. But if we really want to reach the heyday of Indy again, it’s time to throw in the wildness of a proper airport circuit.

Welcome to Goodwood Elevenses, a helping of motoring-related amusement to help break up your day. Watch the last video: Sabine Schmitz showing a GT3 driver how it’s done at the Nürburgring

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