February 9, 2011
Whole new look
By TERRY JONES, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - It’s a sort of boomerang-bikini top-shaped track which comes close to being unique.
“It’s completely different,” admitted Francois Dumontier, president of Octane Motorsports Events Inc. in unveiling track designs for the northeast corner of the City Centre Airport Tuesday.
Dumontier unveiled a track layout with a 3.61-km course and six different grandstand locations, each with its own giant-screen video board.
The grandstand, for opening ticket sale purposes, is configured for 20,000 temporary seats to be put on sale now but is set up with expectation of expansion to much greater numbers as sales grow during the build-up to the July 22-24 event.
“The beauty of this site is that there is no end to it,” said Dumontier, who also is head of the company that promotes the Canadian Grand Prix Formula 1 and NASCAR races in Montreal.
“The seats will be much closer to the track and the best ones will be much coveted from one year to the next,” he predicted, pointing out that is the case in Montreal where they are “10-to-12 feet” from the cars on the bottom rows.
“We wanted to recreate that here,” he said of fans being right on top of the action.
The early buzz is that Octane achieved its goal in hiring Tony Cotman, president of NZR Consulting, to design the 13-turn course which includes mostly left hand turns — normal for ovals but unusual for road courses.
It also features the longest combination of straight-aways, with the opportunity for plenty of passing on not only the straights but several turns, particularly Turn 1.
“I got out of the presser and had 457 messages about how awesome the track looks,” said Mike Cockrall, who manages the Edmonton Indy Twitter account and posted a picture of the layout.
The new circuit, which now incorporates the closed east runway, was designed by Cotman to be as challenging to drivers as the previous course while providing much more action all around for fans, particularly at Turn 1 past the pits, where the cars make a 90-degree turn coming out of the longest of the straightaways.
There’s also a chicane at Turn 3-4 and a technical section through Turns 7, 8 and 9.
It’s going to be crazy fast, almost takeoff-and-fly, blow-your-engine kind of speed down the main straightaway and former runway going into Turn 1.
“It’s OK if there are a couple of crashes in Turn 1,” said new race general manager Anne Roy, who expects speeds over 200 mph down to about 60 to negotiate the corner.
“There’s going to be lots of action.”
Grandstands 10 and 11 are expected to be the first to require expanding.
“The other course was good and fast, but hard to pass on,” said Cotman. “One of the big things we needed to focus on was how to make the show better ... and I think we’ve achieved that.”
A big part, he said, was not having the restrictions of a working runway.
“We were able to create a much better actual track for what people come to see. It will be better.”
The event — as of the moment, without a title sponsor due to the late start of negotiations — has ditched Northlands ticket pricing and selling concepts to go back to the standard auto racing concept, used by Dumontier’s promotional group at the Canadian Grand Prix and NASCAR events in Montreal.
Three-day ticket packages in three price ranges — $230, $150 and $125 — are available.
All are lower than in 2010.
Only general admission tickets will be sold on a daily basis. The race day general admission price is reduced but the Saturday price will be increased “to better reflect the reality of the program” Octane is planning.
General admission (standing) tickets will allow kids under 11 free when accompanied by an adult.
There are also spots available for recreational vehicles.
Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. Friday at www.edmontonindy.com or by phone at 855-350-4639.
Lower prices. Much higher value. That’s the sell.
“We have much more to discuss at a later date, more good news that will be greatly appreciated by our customers.,” said Dumontier. “We will soon reveal our 2011 racing program, which will be much busier on Friday and Saturday.”
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