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Thread: A little look on IndyCar Street Circuits...

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    A little look on IndyCar Street Circuits...

    Hello,


    One of the attratives of the CART Championship when I was a teenager, was its street circuits. Ovals were not in my mind yet...
    Fast, bumpy, with very close racing, and lot of race action, streets circuits were a popular choise for racing promoters during the 80's and 90's.


    This thread is a reminder of the streets circuits during the CART / IRL eras.

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    Cleveland Grand Prix

    May be for the 'purist' Cleveland was not a trully street circuit, but I included it as it was the first circuit different to Oval or Road Courses presented in the championship up to the moment, with a location that was not design to host races... it was an airport after all!!

    EDIT--> The Grand Prix of Cleveland was promoted by Charles K. Newcomb, presented to CART management in 1981 and incorporated to the calendar from 1982 onwards.
    Located inside the Burke Lakefront Airport, on the shores of the Lake Erie, the races was a popular choice for race fans and drivers during its celebration.
    The circuit consisted of two parallel airport runaways (3 times wider than the Indy track), linked with 90º curves almost every turn. The concept was to test both straight speed and turns. It was expected to reach 185 mph, although the track record as of 2002 was 147.512 mph, set by Gil de Ferran on 22 July 1995.

    Base on:
    https://case.edu/ech/articles/g/grand-prix-of-cleveland

    The circuit: Burke Lakefront Airport

    Aerial view (fascinating at night )

    LAT

    1982-1989 - 2.485 miles

    Motosport


    1990-2007 - 2.106 miles



    Some photos of the event:

    1996 Start


    Aerial view of the first turn - a stunning start with 4-5 or even more cars in parallel...



    Tomorrow, a little bit more
    Last edited by AlfaRomeo182T; 12-16-2018 at 02:41 PM.

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    Caesars Palace

    Created for the 1981 Formula 1 season, the Caesars Palace circuit represented the madness for Formula 1 in the USA during the 80's. I was traslated to CART championship for the 1983-1984 seasons.

    Las Vegas was popular for promoting boxing and tennis tournaments... so why not races? It was another form of envisage great 'warriors' fighting for the laurels. The organisers hired Chris Pook as to follow the success of the Long Beach Grand Prix (next on this history...), and place concrete barriers in the hotel's parking lot, to create a 'look-a-like course' circuit. The atmosphere, according to European sources, was null and bleak... I expect a little bit more from your oppinion (better if you were there!), as I think it was better than this comments... The desert heat was a factor to remember, as it made havoc on the driver's stamina. Also, the anti-clockwise direction of running was a hard test for neck muscles and backs, with a smooth surface that invites teams to stiffen its cars suspensions to the maximum...

    After two rounds in Formula 1, the circuit was converted to CART championship. The infield disappeared, to create a 1.125 miles modified "oval" (with no banking...)


    Formula 1 start of 1981

    LAT

    General view



    1983-1984 - 1.125 miles


    ¿Any CART picture?

    Next in time, Long Beach, the first and real street circuit...

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    Isn't it rather stretching things to claim Las Vegas was a street circuit?
    Duncan Rollo

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    500 History Buff! Pelican Joe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by D-Type View Post
    Isn't it rather stretching things to claim Las Vegas was a street circuit?
    One could argue Cleveland was also not a "street" circuit as it was an airport. Caesar's Palace was a parking lot. Maybe temporary circuit is more appropriate...but I'm okay with street circuit.
    Real drivers don't need fenders!

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by AlfaRomeo182T View Post
    1982-1989 - 2.485 miles

    Motosport


    1990-2007 - 2.106 miles
    The change of the track layout was actually something that was not planned. In 1990, the track was initially set up as the original "long" layout, and Friday practice was held on it. But there was a series of really rough bumps where a few cars got into trouble. They red flagged the session, and after a drivers meeting, they decided to re-route the track and skip old turn 1 & 2 and just make the mainstretch longer. The change worked, and it was popular enough that they kept it permanently.

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    Registered User uh_clem's Avatar
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    I've never been able to get excited about Cleveland. Dead flat and all the turns are 90 degrees.

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    Proud to be a Furriner :) Michael Ferner's Avatar
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    Me, too. And I absolutely hated it playing on my racing sim. No fun at all!

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    I love this sport so much dalz's Avatar
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    For the inaugural 1982 race, I read in a racing publication that some drivers had a very hard time finding reference points on the flat airport layout. In the first practice, a few drivers missed various turns and got "lost". The problem came to a head in the first Super Vee practice when a group of cars missed a turn and barreled down a runway, stopping at the end of it. The drivers looked around at each other, wondering what to do. Mears and Big Al happened to be watching and got a good laugh. "See Rick, we're not so dumb, they're doin' it too!"
    "If you see you're gonna miss, grit your teeth."--Evel Knievel

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    Quote Originally Posted by uh_clem View Post
    I've never been able to get excited about Cleveland. Dead flat and all the turns are 90 degrees.
    Are there any street circuits with banking in the turns?

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by uh_clem View Post
    I've never been able to get excited about Cleveland. Dead flat and all the turns are 90 degrees.
    I think the attraction of Cleveland was the long, wide open runways, which allowed the cars to really open it up, as well as be able to pass just about every corner.

    Does it have the beauty and challenge of a picturesque, winding, hilly natural course like Road America or Barber...certainly not. Is a concrete canyon...narrow with walls on both sides, hideous and ugly, and nowhere to pass like the Meadowlands or Houston, etc., etc....not at all.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by uh_clem View Post
    I've never been able to get excited about Cleveland. Dead flat and all the turns are 90 degrees.
    Used to be my favorite race all year! Something about the big, wide open runways appealed to me as a kid. I often wonder why IndyCar doesn't look to other secondary municipal airports for potential temporary circuits, there's a lot of them by major metropolitan areas that wouldn't case too much disruption to host a race at.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctorindy View Post
    The change of the track layout was actually something that was not planned. In 1990, the track was initially set up as the original "long" layout, and Friday practice was held on it. But there was a series of really rough bumps where a few cars got into trouble. They red flagged the session, and after a drivers meeting, they decided to re-route the track and skip old turn 1 & 2 and just make the mainstretch longer. The change worked, and it was popular enough that they kept it permanently.
    Quote Originally Posted by dalz View Post
    For the inaugural 1982 race, I read in a racing publication that some drivers had a very hard time finding reference points on the flat airport layout. In the first practice, a few drivers missed various turns and got "lost". The problem came to a head in the first Super Vee practice when a group of cars missed a turn and barreled down a runway, stopping at the end of it. The drivers looked around at each other, wondering what to do. Mears and Big Al happened to be watching and got a good laugh. "See Rick, we're not so dumb, they're doin' it too!"
    Oh, very good anecdotes ... I have no season review to find out this type of curiosities...



    Quote Originally Posted by D-Type View Post
    Isn't it rather stretching things to claim Las Vegas was a street circuit?
    Quote Originally Posted by Pelican Joe View Post
    One could argue Cleveland was also not a "street" circuit as it was an airport. Caesar's Palace was a parking lot. Maybe temporary circuit is more appropriate...but I'm okay with street circuit.
    Cleveland and Las Vegas was not a street circuit in definition, if we are looking for a race that took place inside a city avenues. The interesting facts about all circuits to review at this post are:

    - All are temporary courses, with use limited only to racing (IndyCar / IMSA / F1, etc.)
    - The principal aim of every circuit was to bring closer motor racing to the masses and fans.
    - Advertising and publicity of the location (Las Vegas, Long Beach, Detroit, etc.)

    This is why I included this two for the moment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by uh_clem View Post
    I've never been able to get excited about Cleveland. Dead flat and all the turns are 90 degrees.
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Ferner View Post
    Me, too. And I absolutely hated it playing on my racing sim. No fun at all!
    Quote Originally Posted by Doctorindy View Post
    I think the attraction of Cleveland was the long, wide open runways, which allowed the cars to really open it up, as well as be able to pass just about every corner.

    Does it have the beauty and challenge of a picturesque, winding, hilly natural course like Road America or Barber...certainly not. Is a concrete canyon...narrow with walls on both sides, hideous and ugly, and nowhere to pass like the Meadowlands or Houston, etc., etc....not at all.
    Doctorindyresumes very well the spirit of Cleveland... as a circuit, it has no interest at all, but its wide areas permit to pass (SIM Racing included)


    Quote Originally Posted by ACCP View Post
    Used to be my favorite race all year! Something about the big, wide open runways appealed to me as a kid. I often wonder why IndyCar doesn't look to other secondary municipal airports for potential temporary circuits, there's a lot of them by major metropolitan areas that wouldn't case too much disruption to host a race at.
    As was your case, ACCP, Cleveland was one of my main interest to follow CART during my first years of motor racing... It was a entertaining race after all. Roberto Moreno win at 2000, Paul Tracy near the end of ChampCar, or Gil de Ferran in 1996 was some good memories.

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    Long Beach Gran Prix

    The jewel of the crownd. If we have to name a US street circuit, Long Beach would be the first one in our mind for the mayority of us.

    Former travel agent and motor racing fan, Chris Pook was the braindchild and promoter of the Long Beach circuit. Inspired by the Monaco GP, he was determined to create a similar event on the US. In a attemp to bring tourism, the city of Long Beach started a plan to revamp the entire city. The british businessman found its opportunity here to develop its dream's race.

    During Autumn of 1975 the inagural event took place, for a F5000 race meeting. The twisty sections, bumps, and tight curves created a furor that attracted one year latter the Formula 1 circus. With the name of " United States Grand Prix West", the event took place during 1976 to 1983. Andretti in 1977, Lauda or Watson with McLaren, or the first win for Nelson Piquet, was the highlights of the F1 race here.

    The renewal for 1984 was not possible, as there was not an agree with Bernie Ecclestone terms, so Chris Pook decided instead to promote to CART. With this decision, Long Beach converted itself as the main and true street course on the calendar from 1984, creating a landmark for the championship and fans. Andretti (Mario and Michael) and Unser Jr. (6 wins, 4 of them consecutive) made the street circuit its home. After them, Paul Tracy or Sébastien Bourdais were other dominators. Nowadays, Long Beach is one of the prominent races of the IndyCar calendar, and one (not to say the best) attraction of the city of Long Beach



    The circuit:
    Long Beach Street Circuit


    Aerial view (beautiful place)

    LAT

    1984-1991 - 1.670 miles

    Motorsport


    1992-1998 - 1.586 miles
    Motorsport
    1999 - 1.824 miles
    Motorsport
    2000-Today - 1.968 miles
    Motorsport
    Last edited by AlfaRomeo182T; 12-21-2018 at 02:29 AM.

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    The pictorial review (I love to show images of what we are talking...)

    The Formula 1 years

    1976 - 1978 - 1979 - 1982
    R.Schlegelmilch / LAT

    Of course, the important one was the 1982 race, with the Alfa Romeo 182 leading with Andrea de Cesaris...


    The CART Years

    1984 - Andretti's play ground...

    CART

    1987 - Mario Andretti's final victory here


    1990 - Al Unser's leading... another master of the race



    1998 - Bryan Herta lost it at the last two laps...



    2008 - ChampCar ends


    2014 - Mike Conway wins from nowhere... (17th... equal to Tracy in 2000, the best comebacks on the IndyCar races here)


    2017 - The start nowadays...

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    A circuit with more than 40 years of existence, that reflects the change of the US racing scene. Long Beach deserves a very-well place in motor racing history and future.

    40th GP cover / 2014



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    Proud to be a Furriner :) Michael Ferner's Avatar
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    Is Toyota still sponsoring that race? That's remarkable, if I recall correctly they started in 1978, 40 years ago!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ACCP View Post
    Used to be my favorite race all year! Something about the big, wide open runways appealed to me as a kid. I often wonder why IndyCar doesn't look to other secondary municipal airports for potential temporary circuits, there's a lot of them by major metropolitan areas that wouldn't case too much disruption to host a race at.
    There's an ungodly amount of bureaucratic maneuvering and paperwork with just the FAA to deal with on any airport shutdown for a race weekend.
    BAN SHREDDED CHEESE! MAKE AMERICA GRATE AGAIN!

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    Last year was the last for Toyota.

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    Proud to be a Furriner :) Michael Ferner's Avatar
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    Ah, yes. Foreign money is no longer wanted in the US.

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    Meadowlands

    During the 80's, Formula 1 and CART was searching a circuit near New York to host a race. Every race promoter was eager to reach this objective. A course in Flushing Meadows Park was planned for 1983, but finally cancelled before running.

    For 1984, CART arranged a temporary course built in the Giants Stadium parking lot, taking place in the Meadowlands Sports Arena. A tight racetrack with twist everywhere, the circuit was never an atraction to crowd or drivers. In a effort to improve competition, the track changed to a modified / semi-"oval" course from 1988, but the result was the same.

    For 1992 race offficials plans to move to Manhattan, using a street-course around the World Trace Center. Cost implications canceled the project.


    The circuit: Meadowlands Sport Clompex

    1984-1987 - 1.682 miles


    1988-1991 - 1.217 miles



    1984 - First Gran Prix - Mario Andretti wins.

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    Another Andretti... Michael going to win the 1990 Prix.

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    I was able to recreate the Meadowlands 1 & 2 courses on Google at one point. A lot has changed there since the days of the race, such that the footprint of courses can no longer be re-driven.





    The lines are a little off here and there due to the imagine warping, but it's easy to see where it once went.

    They really were a mess of a course...courses that is. They were both yucky. In the 1990 race, Arie Luyendyk infamously overshot turn one (the lower left corner of course 2), and had to go up that bridge overpass and back down the ramp to turn around.

    ***

    I can imagine that the idea sounded good on paper and in planning. Running a race in the NYC area by using the already-established Meadowlands Sports Complex as the site. NY/NJ sports fans were already accustomed to going to over to New Jersey to Giants Stadium for Giants/Jets games, etc. The complex was pretty quiet during the month of July at the time...no football, no NBA/NHL, and I think the only thing going on at the time would be horse racing. So set-up and course construction would be of minimal conflict and nuisance. But that willingness for fans to venture over to the Meadowlands certainly did not translate to Indy cars. Not to mention the track was so bad competitively, they had little reason to come over and watch.

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    I love this sport so much dalz's Avatar
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    I remember Mario Andretti was involved with creating the original Meadowlands course. After the first race, where the circuit was panned by most drivers, he said that the original plan was to place the concrete barriers on the sidewalks, with the street curbing being the track perimeter. But that couldn't be or just wasn't done, which robbed them of at least 4-5 feet of track width all around. I don't know how much that would have improved things.
    Last edited by dalz; 01-02-2019 at 10:37 PM.

  26. #26
    Meadowlands...went to them all, and they were fugly!

    Twas very hard to see the cars even in just one small viewing place. On the main straight you just saw the tops of the cars go past behind the tall barrier. As the rest of the course was not visible, the cars came around and you had no idea what had happened elsewhere on the course to change the running order. Just awful.

    Was it the Meadowlands where Mario plowed into the safety truck????

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Doctorindy View Post
    I think the attraction of Cleveland was the long, wide open runways, which allowed the cars to really open it up, as well as be able to pass just about every corner.

    Does it have the beauty and challenge of a picturesque, winding, hilly natural course like Road America or Barber...certainly not. Is a concrete canyon...narrow with walls on both sides, hideous and ugly, and nowhere to pass like the Meadowlands or Houston, etc., etc....not at all.
    Exactly this. Cleveland was different. The width allowed for multiple lines, made lap traffic easier to navigate, and racing down to turn 1 was thrilling!

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    500 History Buff! Pelican Joe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by THE BEAR View Post
    Meadowlands...went to them all, and they were fugly!

    Twas very hard to see the cars even in just one small viewing place. On the main straight you just saw the tops of the cars go past behind the tall barrier. As the rest of the course was not visible, the cars came around and you had no idea what had happened elsewhere on the course to change the running order. Just awful.

    Was it the Meadowlands where Mario plowed into the safety truck????
    Detroit, but on the old street circuit - not Belle Isle

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Pelican Joe View Post
    Detroit, but on the old street circuit - not Belle Isle



    The OP ( Alfaromeo182T ) must like that race: It was the Detroit '89 race, the debut race for the Alfacorse/Capels team with the March 89CA. Guerrerro finished 8th in that race and it turned out to be the best ever finish that season for the team....

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by AlfaRomeo182T View Post
    1984-1991 - 1.670 miles


    1992-1998 - 1.586 miles
    There was actually a slight variation in between these two layouts. The first one shown there was used only 1984-1986, then another was used from 1987-1991 in which turn 9-10 was altered, then the 1992 layout with the longer backstretch.

    A little easier to see LINK

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