But they're all a challenge in themselves; getting all those shift points right, getting all the turn-in points right, braking, making all that happen for an entire event, whether it's 30 laps or 35 laps, is difficult. The asphalt is different. The atmosphere, everything about it, all the people that are here, the excitement that is going to be involved with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is what's going to make this such a great event.
Kenny Roberts Jr. (2000 500cc world champion):
I think that for the sport itself, a minimum of two grands prix should be in America for the size of the U.S. I've grown up in California, and people that plan a vacation that go out there as going to some of the most beautiful areas, like Monterey and Carmel. And the type of physical effort and the demand that - especially last year, 158-degree ground temperature was the hardest, hottest race of my career.
You can make up for a lot of machine shortcomings at Laguna Seca. You got the people on the hills, and you don't have the grandstands so you feel more like you're kind of at a…I guess it's just a different atmosphere than anywhere else you go. They've done a lot of improvements for the safety, which allowed us to get there. It's going to be a good race this year, the 800s are going to make it a little bit easier physically.
When you come to a place like Indy, this is my first time here, so you're basically on the other half of the U.S. to where we can get people that can't make it out to California, come to a place like this, which seems like for me you're coming to the mecca of motorsports anywhere in the U.S., from the side of Formula One to the NASCAR and Indy.
It's going to be a completely different challenge because now you're moving into a technical racetrack, which means you're going to have to have the horsepower required. You can't physically make the bike go faster down the straightaway. And you don't have that problem at Laguna Seca.
So you're going to need the quickest or second-quickest motorcycle, and you're going to have to be precise. If the tyre rules stay the same, you're going to have to get lucky on your tyre choice. And the safety aspect of it is going to be, from what I've seen today in talking with some of the staff here, is going to be at the level we need it to be. So it's going to be two completely diverse racetracks with two different riding styles. Machine is going to be more important here. Of course, the atmosphere here is going to be, you know, you're racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, so it's kind of intimidating in that sense.
Mr. Chitwood, could you please discuss the construction that's going to take place in getting the track ready and the changes that are going to have to happen and maybe a timetable?
As soon as possible. The minute our NASCAR event is done, we're going to start. And probably our biggest challenge is inside of Turn 1. For those of you who don't know, we do have a creek down there that we have to deal with and we have to get the appropriate permitting and all of those things to make the necessary changes. That will be the biggest addition that we have to make. Obviously, we already have some of the turns behind the Museum; we just have to, I guess, align them a little bit differently.
The challenge for us is then accommodating our other events as we roll into next year; weather this winter, and then in the spring how much we can get done prior to getting set for the Indy 500. We feel pretty good that we have an appropriate length of time to do it, although there are some other factors we'll worry about, weather and some of other things. But we've been under the gun before in some of our construction projects. We have a great staff here. We have a gentleman named Kevin Forbes, who is our director of engineering. I'm not sure many racetracks have their own engineer on staff. Whether it's our historian or engineer, we typically have all the right resources. But I can tell you the Monday after the Brickyard we'll be working pretty hard on getting it turned around.
Do you have plans to have a test?
Well, at this point that's going to be based on the construction schedule. Obviously, we'll be working with our partners at MotoGP to determine what's the next step and when the course is ready. I'm sure from the tyre manufacturing component they'll want to get some testing in. But obviously we'll be working with MotoGP on the time needed for them to get out there and get prepared.