The NTT IndyCar Series is the first open-wheel racing series in the United States. The series is best known for hosting the Indy 500, and the series also races the ovals and other routes during the regular season. The final race of the 2022 season is ready to go this weekend at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.
We recently interviewed Dalton Kellette of AJ Foyt Racing, a Canadian IndyCar driver whose favorite track happens to be Laguna Seca.
Road cycle vs. oval
IndyCar is one of the only open racing series on the planet that accelerates both ovals and roads – making it one of the most demanding races to compete in.
It is easy to understand ovals, because they are … ovals. This means that drivers turn around the track counterclockwise and can only turn left. Meanwhile, the road track has more complex angles going left and right. Both types of courses present unique challenges to the driver, and require vastly different techniques. The next race at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca is a road race.
With its infamous reputation as having the toughest corners in American motorsport, the key presents very unique challenges. First, the turn-up approach is completely blind, which means drivers have very limited visual references to identify braking and turning points. Not to mention the 10-story descent from the parking lot entrance to the parking exit that drivers experience in just a few seconds.
However, Kellett says the key isn’t actually the most challenging corner on the track—the one that follows is even more compelling: After successfully squeaking through the key, drivers fire straight into Turn 9, a fast slop to the left. The steep slope nature of the slopes means the car is super steep – ready to roll out. Going wrong here is a bad thing, with a gravel trap on the edge of the track, ready to bite drivers who push their luck.
Physical requirements for road courses
Racecourses like Laguna Seca present very different physical challenges than a driver might encounter on an oval like Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kellett mentions that the Laguna is particularly tricky, due to the amount of steering effort required to get around the myriad path angles; IndyCars does not have power steering, which makes it incredibly physical to drive at any speed.
Besides the force required to rotate the wheel, the cardioid load is also very difficult. Straightforward roads allow IndyCar drivers to take a break from the acceleration forces they encounter while cornering, and the straight start and finish at Laguna Seca is one of the shortest times on the IndyCar calendar. This means drivers will be constantly bombarded by intense acceleration forces for about an hour and a half before they see the checkered flag.
🚘 Be sure to tune in to NBC and Peacock this weekend to see Kellett compete in the Firestone Grand Prix in Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Race coverage will begin immediately at 2:40pm EST on Sunday, September 11th.
Matt Cresara is a native Austin with an unbridled passion for cars and motorsports, both foreign and domestic, and as the Auto Editor for popular mechanicsHe writes the majority of auto coverage via digital and print. He was previously a contributing writer for Motor1 after training at Circuit Of The Americas F1 Track and Speed City, an Austin radio announcer focused on the world of motorsports. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona School of Journalism, where he raced mountain bikes with the university club team. When he’s not working, he enjoys sim racing, FPV drones, and the great outdoors.
#Dalton #Kellett #talks #IndyCar #Laguna #Seca