Indy Car Returns to NASCAR Country

Written by Jim Shepka:

Let’s face it, New England is the home of the Tour Modifieds. It was born here back in the 40’s and the sound can be heard running on the bullrings every Friday and Saturday night all around the region. It wasn’t until the expansion of the old road course in Loudon into the current version of the ‘Magic Mile’ that the ‘Cup’ tour was eventually brought to the masses in New England. It’s also been nearly 20 years since Indy Cars (pick your version) have run in this neck of the woods, with Tony Stewart being the last Indy winner here.

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Long a hotbed for the ‘Cup’ tour with 2 events on the schedule, including the first round of the ‘Chase’, I was curious to see how hardcore New England race fans would receive the series.

It was pretty apparent that crowd numbers were down (in fairness, the same can be said about NASCAR events in the area) but for those in attendance for the free open practice days leading up to qualifying on Saturday, the speeds were off the charts! I spent some time up in the cheap seats to hear what the regulars thought of Indy Cars running on THEIR track and to these ardent fans, they were impressed with the speed and sound of the Indy Cars. I think the whine of an Indy Car motor at full song and hardly lifting on the relatively flat surface of NHMS really put things in perspective for the fans. With speeds nearly 25MPH faster than their beloved Cup cars, and running open wheels inches from the wall, many were converted to the brand. The weather was perfect for practice, the full day of support races and qualifying on Saturday. Dario Franchitti took the pole with the only speed to top 170 mph for the field. He later stated that it was the first time that he didn’t ‘lift’. His time and speed clearly reflected his confidence in his team’s preparation.

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I’ll pass on comments as they relate to race day. Enough media markets have their take on the days’ events and on decisions by Race Control. You can draw your own thoughts from that. I prefer to focus on the fans who attended despite the difficult weather conditions. It was great to see hardcore fans support ‘racing’ in this market. It was even better to see new blood supporting the sport. How do I know this you ask? Guess you had to be at the drivers’ autograph session to ‘get it’. Now, that was off the charts….

Editor’s Note: Jim is a photographer living in New Hampshire and was fortunate enough to be shooting for his primary employer, Philips, at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. We appreciate his willingness to share with us his thoughts on the event and his photography. We have some of his photos on our site here, and more on our Flickr site. You can see more of Jim’s photography at

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