If you’ve ever wanted to experience the effects of a heavy earthquake, turn a few laps of the Music City Grand Prix’s Nashville street circuit in an IndyCar.
“Man, it’s violent,” said Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, the first driver to crash on the new 2.2-mile layout. “Going into Turn 4, the bumps are very violent. I mean, you’re going through there and the wheel is like getting knocked out of your hands. It’s very unique. It’s unlike any other place we go to, for sure.”
Despite clouting the wall at Turn 4 that leads onto the bridge and losing the rest of the session as his car was repaired, the young Mexican was not upset about the rough ride around the Music City Grand Prix.
“What a cool track,” O’Ward added.
For Colton Herta, who went fastest for Andretti Autosport, the long trip across and back on the bridge nearly caused a few crashes of his own as the No. 26 Honda—like most of the cars in the opening practice session—repeatedly slammed into the street surface and bounced skyward as a result of the serious bumps and seams throughout the Korean War Veterans Memorial bridge.
“Obviously, with the bumps going over the bridge, I’d say it’s even bumpier than Detroit, which we always say is the most difficult street course that we go to,” Herta said. “This one might take it. I thought the bridge was going to be bumpy, but I didn’t expect coming off the bridge to be quite that bumpy. It could make it a little tricky if you’re braking for (Turn) Nine. Especially (Turn) Four it makes it tricky. I didn’t expect it to be quite like that.
“But it’s not a negative thing. I think it adds character to the track. It’s actually pretty interesting to follow people through there and see if people are staying out wide or cutting in, trying to avoid the bumps, just finding different lines.”
.@PatricioOWard hit the wall hard in turn 3.
He has been seen and released by the medical team.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) August 6, 2021
Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing’s Romain Grosjean wasn’t far behind Herta on the stopwatch, or in his assessment of the physical track that also offered a lot of sideways driving and excitement.
“The biggest issue is the bridge and feel [of] jumping and going down from the bridge [on] both sides is a bit hectic,” Grosjean said. “So, hopefully we can find a bit of a solution overnight. The rest of the circuit, really, congrats, good job, amazing. The tarmac is actually really good. It’s not too bumpy anywhere else. It’s just those two ways on the grades that are a bit tricky.”
O’Ward’s teammate, Felix Rosenqvist, was another driver to note the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Nashville course.
“The straight after the bridge, where you are bottoming out, is just nuts,” Rosenqvist said. “I had a really big moment there at the end of the session. Apart from that, it is really smooth and straight-forward. Those high-speed kinks really upset the car, but it is a fantastic track. It’s going to be a good challenge and take the best out of us. The best driver will win.”