Grosjean feels at home during the first laps of the IMS Road course
This weekend, Romain Grosjean, rookie of NTT INDYCAR SERIES, will mark a major element of his shopping list: the competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Grosjean, a 10-season Formula 1 veteran, has never competed in the racing capital of the world. He started his part-time F1 career in 2009, and the last United States Grand Prix at IMS was held in 2007.
For a driver who has competed on some of the world’s most historic circuits, just visiting the famous Speedway in the offseason for his pre-season medical was an experience he has not forgotten.
“Just coming into the Speedway, coming in and going through the tunnel, you have a special atmosphere, and then you’re here, and it’s great,” he said. “It’s really big, very impressive.”
Grosjean took part in a track walk around the 14-turn, 2,439-mile road course on Friday in preparation for Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix (2 p.m. ET, LIVE on NBC). Afterward, he tweeted how important even that was to him.
“Follow the walk done at the IMS,” the tweet read. “I have been on many circuits around the world, but this one is with the most special.”
Grosjean got to work quickly on Friday morning during the first NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice. The # 51 Honda NURTEC ODT rider for Dale Coyne Racing with RWR clocked the fifth fastest time in the opening practice session with a time of 1 minute, 10.1587 seconds. He was even faster in the second practice session clocking 1: 09.6214, good for the seventh.
As the race weekend approached, Grosjean was optimistic about the IMS road race. The track has a “European” layout with a smooth surface and flat edges all around the course. In addition, it has two long straight lines typical of European courses.
Compared to the twists and turns and drops of many North American courses, and not to mention the bumpy street courses, Grosjean might feel right at home at IMS.
“There is a bit of a straight line with big braking areas,” he said. “I guess in that aspect, yes it is (European). Barber or Laguna Seca, they are a bit more sinuous and we never really go straight, while here we have a good race to make good overtaking maneuvers. I think the flow and design of this one feels a little more familiar to me than the others, but that doesn’t mean anything.
Grosjean said he takes the different style of racetracks in the United States in stride and tackles each new circuit in the same way. This approach is working because he is having a good start to the season.
Grosjean started seventh and finished 10th in his first career race at Barber Motorsports Park. On his street racing debut in St. Petersburg, Fla., He started 18th and worked his way up to 13th at the end of the grueling race.
He retired the weekend from Texas Motor Speedway, as he competes only on and off road this season, and is back on track at Indianapolis, looking to build on the performances his team put together at Barber.
“As the weekend approaches, there is a lot to learn,” he said. “We just have to make sure we get the best setup. What’s good is that we were competitive at Barber, and here I think it’s a bit similar in terms of grip and surface, etc.
Ahead of the race weekend, Grosjean has been announced as Honorary Chair of the Rev Celebration, which will take place on Saturday July 31 at IMS in preparation for the INDYCAR-NASCAR Triple Head Weekend August 13-15 on the IMS road route. .
It was a fitting role for the French pilot, as he has a love for the culinary arts, and Rev will feature over 60 chefs from the best restaurants in Indianapolis. Grosjean and his wife, Marion, are the authors of the cookbook “Marion et Romain Grosjean Cuisine et confidences”. In addition, Grosjean almost took another career path that led to him becoming a chef.
After his part-time F1 season in 2009, Grosjean had no race scheduled for the 2010 season. So he continued his culinary studies to follow his passion for cooking. However, he was refused.
“I went to a cooking school and I was too old to be a chef, so they turned me down,” he said. “It brought me back to racing, which didn’t turn out to be a bad thing. Since then, I have had the chance to travel the world to meet many chefs via social networks. “
It worked for Grosjean, who won 10 F1 podiums in 179 races before moving on to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES this year.
Competing at the 112-year-old racetrack this weekend clearly means a lot to Grosjean, but there is another race here that means even more to the world of motorsport. Grosjean will not compete in the 105th Indianapolis 500 race presented by Gainbridge on Sunday May 30. But he did not rule out the 106th running race in 2022.
“Never say never,” Grosjean said with a smile.