Apr 27, 2014; Birmingham, AL, USA; IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves (3) along with Scott Dixon (9) and Juan Pablo Montoya (2) during the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
The Associated Press is reporting that the Verizon Indycar Series will be racing at New Orleans Motorsport Park, next year, okay… does this seem premature to anyone else?
NOLA Motorsport Park is a half-finished club circuit built on reclaimed swamp land about sixteen miles south of New Orleans’ famed French Quarter. While the track is designed by Alan Wilson who designed the beautiful Barber Motorsports Park, NOLA doesn’t seem to have any of Barber’s charm or amenities.
Originally designed to have two side-by-side tracks linked in a way that one could race a four-mile track somehow. Only one track is completed and it’s a flat 2.75-mile layout built for motorcycles with one passing area at the end of a long front stretch. It’s a place I thought could hold an Indycar race someday, like when it was finished. Not only is it not finished it wants to host the race in June? Really? June?
New Orleans in June typically sees 90 degree temperatures with 100 percent humidity. If you’d race in New Orleans I’d think you want to be in February or March when the temps are in the 60s to 70s, and ya’know Indycar has one race.
While I’m happy to see new events being announced a year out I still question the logic of racing there now. Looking at the pictures and videos there’s no amenities, no stands, no parking, no camping, no pit facilities, the only retaining walls look temporary and New Orleans hasn’t exactly bounced back from Hurricane Katrina.
There are plans to build the track up with condos and hospitality suites, but apparently none of them are built yet. From the videos I’ve seen it looks cheap. The budget is supposed to be $65 million, when it’s completed, and compare that to Circuit of the Americas, which had a $400 million build out, it is cheap.
NOLA not a world-class facility as it sits, honestly, it’s not even one of the better club tracks in America. They’ve got thirteen months to invest in the facility and bring it up to something worthy of a first-class racing division, but honestly I doubt they’re ready to invest another $30 million or so to finish the track by next year. I’m not the only one either.
I am happy to see that Indycar is adding more permanent road courses, and it’s one that could host pre-season testing. It’s a market NASCAR doesn’t serve and I hope the event succeeds, but I don’t see it. I’d be willing to make the trip from Atlanta to New Orleans to watch a race, in February, during Mardi Gras, not in June when it’s a high of 90 with a high chance of thunderstorms. Hopefully, they’ll exceed my expectations and make this a success.
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