Thrilling in-car footage of new NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden lapping the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval has led to a number of fans and drivers calling for open-wheel racing’s return to North Carolina.
According to series president Jay Frye, however, Newgarden’s demonstration run on behalf of a Team Penske sponsor during a break in NASCAR activities last Friday was not a precursor to IndyCar’s return to CMS where it raced on the oval from 1997 (pictured) to 1999 as the Indy Racing League.
“It’s a wonderful initiative brought on by Pennzoil, and cool to see the NASCAR paddock all stop and watch Josef lapping,” Frye told RACER. “Who knows what’s next, but we’re all racers and loved seeing an Indy car on the Roval. But we don’t have anything we’re working on with them to race there.”
The IRL made three appearances on the Charlotte oval — well prior to the renovation of its infield road course that played host to IMSA and other local series decades ago — with the VisionAire 500 event which proved exceedingly popular on its debut.
Its last appearance was marred by tragedy as debris from a Turn 4 crash went into the grandstands and killed three spectators. The remainder of the race was cancelled.
In response to the Charlotte accident, the IRL implemented a new tethering system designed to prevent wheel assemblies and wings — the most common items sheared from the cars in an impact — from leaving the vehicle and placing fans at risk of injury.