Sunday’s Detroit IndyCar Race Will Feature a Split Pit Lane
Drivers will enter the pitlane and go either left or right to enter their pit stall, shortening pit stop times.
IndyCar is returning to the streets of Detroit this weekend instead of the normal venue at Belle Isle. With the change of venue comes different challenges for the IndyCar grid, and some specific challenges to this reconfigured Detroit street circuit. The most interesting of which is the extra wide split pitlane.
This new Detroit street circuit traces very little of the previous race layouts that Formula 1 used in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The front straight along the Detroit river is somewhat similar, with turns 5, 6, and 7 tracing the old F1 track exactly. The rest is completely fresh just for IndyCar, and it’s a track that has never been driven before. Most importantly, it is truly in the middle of downtown Detroit, and the race organizers have strongly considered foot traffic and ease of access for casual spectators and race fans alike.
According to The Race, “more than half” of the circuit is open to the public without any need for a ticket, which is meant to attract locals to come and see the race without the need for planning. Ideally, folks could stumble upon the track and stick around. This model was used for IndyCar’s Nashville street circuit race, and IndyCar has enjoyed plenty of success there.
As far as the track goes, the pitlane is the most unusual thing about it. Most motorsport pitlanes are one-sided affairs, with pit stalls on one side and a single lane of traffic. This makes pitlanes very long, at least half the length of the front straight at most tracks with some tracks using the whole front straight. At Detroit, the pitlane is substantially shorter than most pitlanes and has pit stalls on either side. This means drivers will choose one of two lanes and enter their pit box on the left or right-hand side depending on pit assignments.
It’s a quirky feature and will make for interesting strategy decisions. The extremely short pitlane reduces pit time substantially, meaning team strategists will need to be extra precise and decisive. Hopefully, the racing is good enough to bring the track to life.
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