Gateway Preview

Once again, I am on the road this morning on my way to a race track. Unlike last Friday where I ended up traveling over 900 miles from Nashville to Pocono via Indianapolis. This weekend is much more manageable. In fact, it started last night when I left work and drove to western Kentucky, where Susan has been working this week. I stayed with her last night and I’m now on my way to Gateway Motorsports Park, located just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis in Madison, IL. She will work today and join me at the track late this afternoon.

I’ve never been to Gateway, but some of the old-timers last weekend had some less than kind things to say about the facility the last time IndyCar ran there in 2003. But that was fourteen years ago and one owner ago. I did finally run into someone that had been to the track recently and they told me to not listen to the naysayers, because the new owner since 2012, Curtis Francois, had sunk a lot of money into improvements to the facility. With that being said, I’m going to give the place the benefit of the doubt and go to see it myself with an open mind. If it’s a mud pit, I’ll let you know.

But those negative comments applied to the facility and not to the track itself.The drivers that raced there, loved it. Not many current drivers have raced at Gateway, so that gives this weekend sort of a wild-card feel. Aside from Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan – I can’t think of any other current rivers that have raced at the 1.25-mile egg-shaped oval.

Raul Boesel set the track record in 1997 at 223.871 mph, while driving for Patrick Racing. I’m guessing that was in the old Brahma Beer livery which ranks up there with some of the uglier liveries I’ve seen. I’m guessing that record is not in jeopardy this weekend.

With the points battle tightening up last weekend at Pocono and the unfamiliarity with this track – this could be a fascinating weekend. Scott Dixon is second in points, but pretty much concedes that this is not a track where Honda will have much success. Look for Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power all try to capitalize with their Chevy-powered cars at Gateway.

It’s a full schedule in this two-day event. Today there will be IndyCar practice, with qualifying at 6:30. Then in between all of the Mazda Road to Indy track activity – there is also a concert on the grounds before a final IndyCar practice from 9:00 until 10:00. Then tomorrow, there is an autograph session mid-afternoon and more Mazda Road to Indy activity and races before the Verizon IndyCar Series race takes the green flag at 8:40 for a 248-lap race that should be very interesting.

I went with Helio Castroneves last weekend and I jinxed him. He crashed on his qualifying run and had to start at the back of the field. It’s tempting to go with him again  because he won the last IndyCar race there in 2003. But I want him to win the championship, so I won’t jinx him again. Instead I’ll not go too far out on the limb and take the driver with the hottest hand. His last three races have finished with results of first, first and second. Of course, I’m talking about Nashville’s own – Josef Newgarden. We’ll see.

As usual when  attend races in person, I will be posting here throughout the weekend. Please check back often. Also please follow me on Twitter at @Oilpressureblog or Susan at @MrsOilpressure for photos and comments. Check back later today.

George Phillips

9 Responses to “Gateway Preview”

  1. Brian McKay Says:

    Have a good time.
    Drive safely.

    Rest in peace, Justin Wilson.

  2. I have visited Gateway twice in the last year. We took a long weekend in St. Louis and then again last month- I had to check out the repave while driving from Louisville to Denver I stopped by to check out the repave. There is a go kart track in the middle on the turn 1 and 2 end and the grandstands are pretty high. That is crazy the track record is a 223.8. When you are standing there looking at it its difficult to imagine a lap that fast. The turn 1-2 end is tight , more so than the 3-4 end. The facility is not very big and really skinny. Not a whole hell of a lot going on in Madison, Ill I can tell you that as well but a perfect place for a race track.

  3. I’m thinking Ed Carpenter may have driven a Silver Crown car at Gateway when USAC ran there.

  4. billytheskink Says:

    Boesel’s track record is 187.963 MPH, which is still absurdly fast on a short. tight track. The fastest a stock car has ever qualified at Gateway is 136.828 MPH.

    Back in May, Conor Daly paced testing with a 176.907 MPH lap, which happened on the old track surface. Testing times on the new surface were not published, but some teams allegedly claimed that they had picked up at least 1 second from their May times on the repaved surface. If Daly shaved just 1 second off of his top May testing time, he would have recorded a lap at 184.146 MPH. A 1.5 second reduction would put him at 187.993 MPH.

    Testing times would indicate that this is a big opportunity for the Foyt drivers. Here’s hoping those long straightaways facilitate passing. Wish I could have made it this year.

  5. Clearly this is written by someone not Up To Speed on the Gateway race. Why is this race starting at 8:40 PM?. I would think that the late start would have to hurt the walk-up crowd. Hopefully Madison is a good distance from East St. Louis.

    I thought a “Bommarito” was a spicy Italian sausage sandwich with lots of hot peppers, so I will have to look into the automotive branch of the family. They seem to have done a good job of promoting the race.

    I question that the track record is 223+ mph for a track only a bit longer than the Milwaukee Mile.

    • I was quoting what a certain website said. It seemed a little fast to me too, but I thought if you saw it on the internet it had to be true, so I went with it. – GP

      • That is why I was so stunned to see that, since you are on the internet, and given the reliable accuracy of your Phillips-a-Pedia reporting.

  6. Let’s not forget Sebastien Bourdais’s miraculous return to the car this weekend! IMO, that’s a bigger story than whoever ends up winning this race.

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