Exclusive! Ben Spies Describes Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Pagoda Tower IMS

Fifteen years ago, in conjunction with the return of Formula 1 to these shores, the Speedway spent millions on a new road course, media center, garages and suites, and, seen here, the current Pagoda control tower.

Indy was a good track for me. The road course used to be very slick, but they repaved it. The layout is really flat, so you have to be comfortable with the bike moving around. There are a lot of left-handers, and tire “drop” is massive.

IMS Track Map 2015 V2

With nine lefts and seven rights, the 2.591-mile IMS road course fits neatly inside the famous 2.5-mile oval used annually for the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400.

Turn one is key. You can run it in there deep and carry more corner speed than you think. Most slow corners are point and shoot, but turns two, three, and four are attached to each other, so that section flows well. Turn five is straightforward: You get the bike turned in and you’re back to the throttle, pretty much tapped out.

The next series of corners was my favorite, where I made the most time. If you don’t rush it, you can get the timing just right. If you overshoot the first right by 2 meters, though, you’ll lose two-tenths of a second. That right-left-right is one of the most important parts of the track.

Getting off the back straightaway is fairly clear-cut, but the next right-hander has a weird double/triple apex. The better you can get off that corner, the less you need to bake the tire before you reach the spot that matters the most: the long left. There’s not much grip there, and after about six laps, your tire is so hot it’s just spinning. It’s a fun corner for the riders, but you have to conserve the tire for the whole race.

Passing is really difficult in the last three corners. It’s another one of those sections you don’t want to rush because your exit onto the front straightaway will suffer. You just have to take your time.

This story is excerpted from the 2015 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship season guide. Produced by the Bonnier Motorcycle Group, the 56-page publication is available for purchase at all nine MotoAmerica events.

Pagoda Tower IMS

Fifteen years ago, in conjunction with the return of Formula 1 to these shores, the Speedway spent millions on a new road course, media center, garages and suites, and, seen here, the current Pagoda control tower.

Indy was a good track for me. The road course used to be very slick, but they repaved it. The layout is really flat, so you have to be comfortable with the bike moving around. There are a lot of left-handers, and tire “drop” is massive.

IMS Track Map 2015 V2

With nine lefts and seven rights, the 2.591-mile IMS road course fits neatly inside the famous 2.5-mile oval used annually for the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400.

Turn one is key. You can run it in there deep and carry more corner speed than you think. Most slow corners are point and shoot, but turns two, three, and four are attached to each other, so that section flows well. Turn five is straightforward: You get the bike turned in and you’re back to the throttle, pretty much tapped out.

The next series of corners was my favorite, where I made the most time. If you don’t rush it, you can get the timing just right. If you overshoot the first right by 2 meters, though, you’ll lose two-tenths of a second. That right-left-right is one of the most important parts of the track.

Getting off the back straightaway is fairly clear-cut, but the next right-hander has a weird double/triple apex. The better you can get off that corner, the less you need to bake the tire before you reach the spot that matters the most: the long left. There’s not much grip there, and after about six laps, your tire is so hot it’s just spinning. It’s a fun corner for the riders, but you have to conserve the tire for the whole race.

Passing is really difficult in the last three corners. It’s another one of those sections you don’t want to rush because your exit onto the front straightaway will suffer. You just have to take your time.

This story is excerpted from the 2015 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship season guide. Produced by the Bonnier Motorcycle Group, the 56-page publication is available for purchase at all nine MotoAmerica events.