It’ll never fly


I’ve been tweeting quite a lot this weekend about the temporary chicane at the Indycar Grand Prix of Baltimore. Frankly I think it’s an ill thought out, potentially dangerous attempt at making safe a tricky piece of track.

The problem is this. One of the main straights is dissected by train tracks. Short of building a bridge, you can’t avoid them. Without slowing the cars down, as was tried with chicane removal last year, they will be launched.

So we should applaud the chicane right? Wrong. It’s almost as bad as the Tic Tac chicane was in Singapore. Thankfully they’ve finally seen sense and got rid of it this year for F1’s night race. And Baltimore needs to think about doing the same.

I’m no circuit designer but there seems to be a simple solution.


This is basically what exists now. A tight and narrow chicane, tyres on the apex of high kerbing in an attempt to slow cars before the train tracks. It’s a recipe for launching cars in practice, let alone in race situations. It’s impractical and counterproductive. The issue here is cars being launched. This solution merely serves to stop launching them over train tracks and instead launches them over kerbs and into walls.


This is my solution. A long, wide S bend. Low kerbing flowing to the point of the tracks, such that the circuit itself follows the train line. High tyre barriers sit inside the kerbs, with escape roads at the track limits on either side.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a 5 minute job done with my daughter’s colouring pens while she was eating her dinner.

The race organises have had a year.

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16 thoughts on “It’ll never fly

  1. At first I thought the chicane was a joke. Then watching cars fly off the curbs, bang walls and do sprint car worthy slides I realized it must be there for the highlight reels. That you could come up with a rational solution just reinforces the latter.

  2. You will need to put a similar feature on the LHS of pickles page, ahead of the first one, as cars will just charge down on that side. Tilke? Pfft.

  3. Genius! I was witness to the ill-fated Champ Car race in Las Vegas. No matter how spectacular it may look; it’s a recipe for disaster!

  4. I just watched race, I can’t believe how poorly they run IndyCar. If I listed all the problems it would fill the page. My question is why is F1 so superior? does Charlie whiting needs to be recruited?

  5. I was at the race over the weekend, went down to the chicane during Indy quali Saturday morning and saw one car absolutely demolish his front wing after hopping over the corner. Quite the noise…

  6. That’s a much better chicane, and nicely drew.

    This year chicane was so dangerous Peter Dempsey almost flipped his car to the wall by clipping the unprotected tyre-barrier. That was a hefty crash.

  7. Your suggestion (drawing) has the cars encountering the tracks at high lateral load, rather than when they are going (generally) straight after the chicane. there’s a lot I’m not aware of re: the reality on the ground but if the tracks represent a significant change in adhesion it could be an unavoidable handful rather than an avoidable one.

  8. It’s just Indycar’s version of the Singapore Sling :)…which coincidentally is going away this year. On a serious note, the train tracks also cross the Baltimore circuit near turn 7 (if my memory is correct on the turn number), and there the tracks are completely paved over with asphalt. I wonder why they don’t completely pave over the tracks on the start-finish line as well. Maybe because the rest of the straight is concrete, or because the resulting bump over the tracks would still get cars airborne? I don’t know. I’d like to see Indycar try something similar to Will’s drawing. I’m not sure if the street is wide enough for it to be an effective solution but they should give it a shot.

  9. Pingback: Open-Wheels » Blog Archive » Chris D: F1 Singapore Preview

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