Hitting the Apex: GMR Grand Prix

With the Month of May celebrations starting up, ATRL’s Eline Luna takes a look at GMR Grand Prix this weekend at the Brickyard.

Eline Luna

May 12, 2023

In anticipation towards the Indy 500, and an exciting start to the month of May, IndyCar races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend. But, instead of the famous oval, they’ll be racing on a road course at the complex.

Built in 1909, Indianapolis Motor Speedway is over 100 years old, although it has seen some major changes over the years. Originally the racing surface consisted of crushed stone sprayed with tar. However due to the slippery nature of the mixture and resulting accidents and injuries, this was quickly changed to bricks which is also why the track is sometimes referred to as ‘The Brickyard’.

Karl Zemlin / Penske Entertainment

In 1939, the track was resurfaced again to asphalt, only leaving a small stroke of bricks. That 36 inch strip of bricks at the start/finish line remains part of the track that drivers will race over this weekend.

Since 2014, IndyCar has raced on this configuration of the circuit 11 times, with the race this weekend being the 12th. The race is on a slightly different layout than when Formula 1 raced at the venue, however, the drivers describe the track as feeling quite European in its style, which might help drivers such as rookie Marcus Armstrong perform well at the track.

The track is technical and doesn’t create many overtaking opportunities. Racing at the track is mainly characterized by high speeds, big braking points, and smooth surface which is not always the case on IndyCar road courses. Unlike the race later this year at the same track, tyre degradation is not as bad. This means drivers are able to race flat out all through their stint and don’t have to conserve as much.

Past Winners

  • 2022: Colton Herta (R1) Alexander Rossi (R2)
  • 2021: Rinus VeeKay (R1) Will Power (R2)

Race Info:

  • Race Length: 85 Laps/ 207.32 Miles
  • Turns: 14
  • Track Length: 2.439 Miles
  • Most Wins: Will Power (5)
  • Race lap record: 1:09.3888 (Josef Newgarden, 2017)

Strategy

Pit strategy often leads to this race being a 3 stopper, however with the weather this time of year likely to switch things up, it is quite possible to see some last minute strategy changes.

In terms of tyres, Firestone provides similar tyres to other road courses with slight adjustments made for the unique nature of the track configuration. Primary (Firestone Blacks) and Alternate (Firestone Reds) are provided with the reds being a softer compound meaning faster lap times but quicker tyre degradation.

What to Watch Out For?

It’s rare that every driver manages to go through Lap 1, Turn 1 cleanly. In the case of any restarts, the probability of an additional incident on Turn 1 is high. Will Power and Team Penske hold the most wins on this track, making them a force to be reckoned with. Power has 5 victories alone while Team Penske as a whole have taken 8 victories out of 11 races at the track.

The Championship Standings

Marcus Ericsson currently leads the championship, with only three points separating him from Patricio O’Ward. A further 6 points behind him is Alex Palou, followed by Scott Mclaughlin and Romain Grosjean. Grosjean has scored two pole positions this season already, but still hasn’t been able to translate a pole into a win. Will he finally be able to take that much anticipated win this weekend?

As always points can not only be scored by simply finishing the race, but also by taking pole and leading laps. Leading a single lap will already gain a driver a point but leading the most out of all drivers will hand the driver 2 points.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eline follows a variety of motorsports from Formula E to IMSA to Nascar to WEC. They hope to study Mechanical Engineering to work in motorsports one day.

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