IndyCar drivers will face a “unique” challenge when they race at the new home of the Detroit Grand Prix next week.
The Detroit Grand Prix has been relocated from the Belle Isle circuit, which was its home since 1992, to a street course in the city. It includes some of the same roads used for Formula 1’s races in the circuit between 1982 and 1988 before the race was taken over by the CART IndyCar series.
The pits will be built in a car park for the nearby Renaissance Center. However the organisers found space was too limited to construct a conventional, single-sided pit lane. That led to the decision to allow drivers to refuel on both sides.
“The problem was there wasn’t 1,000 feet of pit lane,” Detroit Grand Prix chairman Bud Decker explained in a video produced by the event promoters. “We have 500 feet.
“So what do we do? For the first time ever, the fans are going to see a dual pit lane where cars will come in and some will pit to the right and some will pit to the left.
“At the end of pit lane they’ll all come together in a single file and find their way back to the race track. How? I’m sure they’ll figure that out.”
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The arrangement isn’t entirely unprecedented. Formula E used a similar twin-sided pit lane configuration in Hong Kong when it raced there between 2016 and 2019 (below). Although refuelling is not needed in the all-electric series, drivers did pit to swap cars during the first race in Hong Kong.
IndyCar has already had one controversial episode in a conventional pit lane this year, when Alexander Rossi was penalised in the Texas round for colliding with Kyle Kirkwood when they came in for stops. Rossi maintained the collision was Kirkwood’s fault.
Decker predicted Detroit’s pit lane will be a scene of drama when IndyCar uses it for the first time following next week’s race.
“That is going to be where the action is going to occur because you win and you can lose on pit lane,” he said. “Our will be the most unique anywhere in the world because – guess what? – this has never been done before.”
Formula E’s twin pit lane
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22 comments on ““I’m sure they’ll figure it out”: Detroit GP reveals unusual double-sided pit lane”
22nd May 2023, 14:10
Belle Isle was a great street track, one of the best IndyCar had to offer.
Big shoes to fill.
22nd May 2023, 15:23
Agreed. But the new track is horrible, it won’t fill a single shoe. It’s only 2.7km long and it only has 90′ turns! That’s horrendous.
23rd May 2023, 14:32
Yeah, and despite that it’ll still be better than any F1 race.
I luv chicken
22nd May 2023, 20:24
They had to move because the cars were running over too many rats.
22nd May 2023, 15:19
I hope the cars have a little arrow on the fuel gauge, like Ford used to do, telling drivers which side to fill up.
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
22nd May 2023, 16:20
It took me until far too late in my life to realise that…
22nd May 2023, 20:32
@keithcollantine that makes me feel so much better knowing that I wasn’t the only one that was late to the party in this! Its a game-changer.
23rd May 2023, 12:59
22nd May 2023, 15:58
TBH I would like to see them rethink/experiment with the pit lane in motorsports in general. They are far from optimal in many ways.
For one, I think it would be nice to see a pit lane which wasn’t on the start/finish straight trialed. If it was placed on the other side of the track they wouldn’t need an out lap and an in lap to do a flying lap. I think it would be an interesting experiment, anyway.
Other options, like diagonal pit boxes with separate in and out lanes, could also be interesting. We’ve had the same pit lane layout for a very long time, and I quite like seeing different ways tried.
22nd May 2023, 16:05
Indeed, Silverstone could have done that with the old and new pitlane at opposite ends of the track. Indycar sometimes puts the timing line right in front of the pitlane entry for qualifying, which skips the inlap (though not the outlap).
22nd May 2023, 18:57
Oops. I didn’t see your response when I typed the same thing below.
22nd May 2023, 18:55
For Indycar qualifying, they don’t use the start/finish line to time the laps. They have a timing line before the point where cars have to slow for the pit lane. That way, they can pull into the pits right after their fast run reducing the number of cars driving slowly while other cars are doing their fast runs. I’ve thought F1 should do something similar for safety reasons.
23rd May 2023, 13:01
Good ideas. This is indeed an area open for improvement. But given Liberty’s approach they’d probably rather invest in something they can sell or raise the price off. So it will need to be the track owners innovation.
Mark Zastrow (@markzastrow)
22nd May 2023, 16:01
Is that image a screenshot from Papyrus’ IndyCar Racing II?
Kidding aside, I’m interested to see how much this will shorten the time lost in pit stops. IndyCar races are so often gambles between a 2- or 3- stop race on fuel, but I wonder whether this will push more teams into 3 stopping.
22nd May 2023, 16:28
Detroit announced the pit lane over 6 months ago, why is it news now?
22nd May 2023, 17:06
I quite like the close positioning of the quote
and the caption for the video below: “Formula E’s twin pit lane” FE 2016 ePrix Hong Kong :)
23rd May 2023, 10:31
I’ve watched a bit of Indy for the first time this year and wow, years of relatively “safe” pit stops in F1 didn’t prepare me for the chaos and danger of Indy pit stops. The people, equipment and cars moving around seemingly at random gives me major anxiety. I saw the Rossi/Kirkwood incident and my heart leapt into my mouth; it feels like only a matter of time before something more serious happens in the Indy pit lanes.
23rd May 2023, 11:19
Genuine question if anyone knows: Do Indycars have fuel flaps on both sides of the car? Because otherwise surely half the field is going to be at a pretty big disadvantage if they have to drag the fuel hose around to the other side of the car before they’re able to fill up surely?
23rd May 2023, 14:07
They can easily be converted. Pretty sure they pit from the right at Portland. Watkins Glen, while off the schedule, is like that too. There may be others that aren’t coming to mind.
23rd May 2023, 14:08
Long Beach too!
some racing fan
23rd May 2023, 23:08
Road America, St Pete and Nashville also
23rd May 2023, 14:30
Yes, they can fill either side to accommodate the pit layout (road courses or ovals). They just need to remove a cover on the side pod.
Comments are closed.