SI Vault
 
TO START OUT, DIG IN
Gwilym S. Brown
April 22, 1974
Andy Granatelli drove there, crashed there—and doggedly sponsored 35 losing cars before getting his first winner there. He says, with reverence, "I just love the whole aroma of the place."
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April 22, 1974

To Start Out, Dig In

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Jones also depends on plastics of the future for his cantilevered transparent roof covering both stands and track to permit all-weather racing. Further, he would line the track with compressed-air jets whose blasts would dry the surface in minutes. And for a final fillip, Jones foresees temperature-control piping hidden beneath the track surface to either cool or warm it so that racing and tire testing could be run at precise temperatures in winter or summer.

All the experts would redesign and stretch the pit area, relocating entry and exit roads for greater safety—and in the shuffle, old Gasoline Alley would be gone. The modern new garage area would reappear behind the pits, and could be roofed with transparent plastic so fans could look down on all the action inside.

And among those looking on, Gurney suggests, might be students of racing as a science. His fondest Indy dream envisions a college research center on the spot, a sort of Indy Tech, where experts could study fuels, engineering and automotive safety in action. "The timeworn defense of auto racing has always been that it improves the breed," he says. "But this laboratory could lend new truth to that claim."

There are several other touches to tomorrow's Indy: since there is no rule that a track must be black, the experts propose colors—say orange straightaways blending into darker reds for corners and banked turns, perhaps a blue pit road—all the better for drivers to focus on.

Admittedly, the entire plan would be easier to realize if one were to abandon Indy, find a new site someplace, dig a hole and start over. Never. Creative dreaming about redesigning Indy is fine, but one would never move the old place. For one thing it might mean the panelists would have to compose a new theme song to replace Back Home Again in Indiana. And that would be carrying renovation too far.

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