New Nashville city circuit designed with excitement and safety at the forefront.
IndyCar’s first Music City Grand Prix, taking place in Nashville in August, could feature a number of cars running side-by-side into the first corner, according to circuit designer Tony Cotman. «The first corner is quite wide, and I can easily see them running five or six-wide, just because there is room there to do it», he said.
The 3.5 km circuit features 11 turns and will cross the Cumberland River in a rare spectacle, with the drivers racing over the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge. Construction work is on target with Swiss company Geobrugg currently in the process of shipping out over 2,000 debris fence panels and concrete barrier moulds for local barrier production, with key work and improvements being made in preparation for the event. «We’ve just started pouring the barriers in the new year and now product from Geobrugg is arriving every two weeks, so it’s really just about getting organised,» added Cotman.
This preparation is crucial to deal with the safety requirements related to the number of elevation changes on the circuit once the drivers get past the bridge and run into Turns 4-6, the highest point of the track. The wide circuit coupled with these elevation changes will create a lot of overtaking opportunities. As this is the first IndyCar street circuit to be added to the calendar since 2013 it will install Geobrugg’s mobile debris fences, which meet the highest FIA standards.
«We’ve seen their products around the world, and it has become more and more of a leader but from a US perspective using this barrier and panel system will be a first,» said Cotman. «We feel we’ve got the absolute best available safety system out there that we are going to use – we’re quite bullish about that.»
This is especially important as the cars race side-by-side over the bridge that is 80-feet above the water twice per-lap, requiring additional safety considerations to ensure rescue teams can reach the cars easily. «Any time IndyCar runs near water there is always rescue to consider in case anything should happen,« said Cotman. «But the bridge is relatively wide; we’ll run a 12-meter track width in each direction.»
There will be exactly 2,150 concrete barriers and debris fence panels provided by Geobrugg – 650 of which will be on the bridge. Much of the production of the concrete barriers along with the debris fences will be done onsite, with installation taking place three weeks before the event.
Jochen Braunwarth, Geobrugg’s Director of Motorsport Solutions, said: «It’s the first street circuit installation of the most current FIA safety standard in the US. We will be overseeing the production, training and quality control standards of the barriers and will perform the required training for the assemble of the debris fence panels.»
The event is already gearing up for success with all VIP suites having sold out and a bumper crowd expected (if COVID allows). Against the backdrop of downtown Nashville, the race is set to be one of the most uniquely challenging spectacles on the IndyCar calendar.