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Perhaps the least heralded of the turns, Turn 2 has unique traits

Turn 2 back in the day

This May 31, 1926, photo provided by Indianapolis Motor Speedway show an aerial view of race cars heading into Turn 2 during the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Ind. (IMS via AP)

In a lap that requires four turns to complete a lap, one of them is likely to be somewhat utilitarian – a necessary component to get a driver where they need to be.

At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? You’d have to say the Turn 2 fills that role.

It’s rarely a turn where you can win the race – though plenty of race-winning passes have been set up coming out of the turn.

It’s definitely a turn where you can lose the race. For all of the attention Turn 1 gets in terms of surviving it on Lap 1? Plenty of first-lap Indianapolis 500 accidents have taken place in Turn 2 as the cars dice for position.

Similarly, Turn 2 can sometimes be where drivers pushing their cars to the limit go past the optimum and hit the wall, either by being too brave or by getting into the marbles from worn tires. In 1992, Roberto Guerrero earned infamy when he spun out exiting Turn 2 before the race started trying to warm his tires on an exceedingly cold race day.

Turn 2’s iconic moments are almost all related to accidents. While Bill Vukovich Sr. didn’t technically have his fatal accident in Turn 2 in 1955, he was exiting it on to the backstretch, putting him in a defense-less spot to be collected in his fatal accident.

Turn 2 suites Sneva crash

Indianapolis Motor Speedway video capture

Tom Sneva had a fiery accident there in 1975. Just last year, there was a scare as Kyle Kirkwood’s tire flew between the Southeast Vista and the Turn 2 suites, luckily, coming to a rest without hitting any spectators or officials.

Yet, Turn 2 is unique in many ways. It has the fewest seats around it than any other turn has. It has the now-iconic suites dominating the outside of the turn. The cars exit the pit lane in Turn 2.

On-track

If Turn 2 hides its charms, that characteristic starts on-track. Most of what goes into navigating it successfully isn’t visually obvious to fans watching the race.

The obvious idea is to get cars to fly out of the turn and carry that speed through the backstretch. Unlike circuits with a tighter profile, the short chute between Turns 1 and 2 prevents a driver from using a slingshot effect.

It makes Turn 2 very technical and very important, but if you get it right? Besides improving your time, you have an opportunity to do everything from maximize your fuel strategy to set yourself up for a pass.

It’s a tricky balance, though.

“Because the short chute is so, well…short, the tires don’t have very much time to recover thermally,” said 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi.

“The front axle is usually overworked at Indianapolis so the right front (tire) takes a pretty big beating. Due to this you have to predict a bit of understeer in Turns 2 and 4. You end up turning in slightly earlier than you would for Turns 1 and 3,” Rossi added.

That’s assuming the weather conditions are optimal. All turns are affected by the wind, but given that prevailing winds at Indy are most likely to come from the west or the south? You will often have a crosswind or wind on your tail in Turn 2.

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Turn 2 is fraught with danger just like the other turns are. The car driven by Patricio O’Ward, of Mexico, goes airborne after hitting the wall in the second turn during practice for the Indianapolis 500 on May 16, 2019, in Indianapolis.

It’s just one aspect that plays a role in an important trait throughout the track – handling.

“It all depends on how your car is handling. Sometimes you’ll have a later turn to make sure you’re straight coming off. But if you’ve got a lot of front in the car, then you’ll start turning early. Sometimes you’re hanging out there a little bit longer,” 2018 Indianapolis 500 champion Will Power said.

Rossi noted that Turn 2 is the hardest one on the track for him.

Off-track

Turn 2 only has seats at the entrance of the turn, the Southeast Vista and the G Stand.

Paradoxically, it appears to have a mass of people given that the G Stand bleeds into the south short chute, where there are grandstands surrounding the entire surface of the track.

Both stands vary widely in price. For 2025 renewals, deck seats in the Southeast Vista is $250, but the G Stand is just $90.

Like Turns 3 and 4, fans in Turn 2 are exposed to the elements. You have the sun at your back – but make sure that sunscreen protects your neck.

Boles noted that fans in Turn 2 are just as loyal as fans are in the other turns.

“I try to call 10 customers three or four nights out of the week. One of my favorite things to do is ask how long they’ve been in those seats? Ninety percent of the folks who are in their seats say they have the best seat in the place. It’s their tradition sitting in their location,” Boles said.

Then there’s the suites, a place that everyone knows about, but that few have set foot in. The bottom floor was once part of the Speedway Motel, which had 96 rooms when it opened on the southeast edge of IMS in 1963. The suites were originally built in 1973 and have been augmented since.

The motel closed in 2008, though the rooms are still used for IMS guests and employees. As for the suites? A three-year term for all of the events at IMS will set you back a cool $262,500.

Turn 2 from suites

Indianapolis Motor Speedway video capture

Boles said that Turn 2 offers a unique perspective on the race.

“If you look to your left in that grandstand, you understand the tightness of the racetrack because of the short chute and how delicate the line is for the drivers,” Boles said.

“Then you look to your right, you see this massive opening with no grandstands on the outside of the track. There’s just this wild, wild west feeling I think as you watch cars exit down the backstretch,” Boles noted.

There is runoff in Turn 2, if the pit lane can be counted as such, and it gave rise to a quickly muted plan in the 2000s.

Boles said that before he was IMS president, NASCAR suggested that the turns should be re-profiled to make racing better for the stock cars in the Brickyard 400. Similar to changes made at NASCAR tracks Atlanta, Homestead and Texas.

It didn’t happen. So Turn 2, as well as the rest of the turns, retained the form they have since 2009.

“Sometimes it’s better to just leave things alone and let them be,” said Boles, who was asked what Indianapolis 500 fans would have thought about such a change.

“It would not have been good.”