More than 30 GT3 cars and a potential capacity field is expected for the Indianapolis 8 Hour according to SRO America President and CEO Greg Gill, who is targeting a doubling of the grid from last year’s inaugural event.
The joint Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli and Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS round saw a 22-car overall field in 2020 amid challenging COVID-19 travel restrictions for international GT3 teams.
The expected year-on-year growth will come both domestically — with GTWC America grid sizes nearing 20 cars — along with additional IGTC teams making the trip to the Brickyard.
Sportscar365 understands there are at least 12 full-season IGTC entries, with that number to potentially grow following this weekend’s season-opening TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa.
As was the case last year, the race will again be supplemented by GT4 machinery from Pirelli GT4 America and the new-for-2021 GT America powered by AWS series.
“We’re really excited to see the growth year over year,” Gill told Sportscar365. “We’re looking at over 30 GT3 cars and we believe we’ll have the grid completely full.
“We’re looking at expanding — because the IndyCar pit boxes are so large — we may be able to cut some of them down to be able to get more cars in.
“I think a grid in the low 40s is very realistic.”
Gill said the work done by the SRO America staff over the past 12 months, which has seen the GTWC America grid double in size, has played a significant factor.
Unlike last year’s race, where series points were paid at the three-hour mark, double GTWC America points will be awarded for the full race duration.
The formation of GT America — a Bronze-rated driver sprint series — has also helped lead to additional entries in GTWC America for the 2021 season.
“With the doubling of the GT World Challenge America grid, the launch of GT America, that has been helpful to both,” said Gill.
“The credit goes to the paddock members who all wanted to see the format grow. As we sat down last year at Road America, we discussed what things would need to be done.
“I give a lot of credit to George Kurtz and David Askew — although every member of the paddock contributed — George and David were really instrumental in supporting the idea of creating GT America and bringing that in for the experienced Bronze drivers to give them an opportunity in the traditional World Challenge format.
“At the same token, George Kurtz used the expression that you don’t want to take a year like 2020 and make business decisions out of it. It was a ‘Black Swan’ year.
“I think that was a really great comment that we’ve taken to heart.
“The growth we’ve seen for our business has been from being predictable and having a stable format. That’s growing for us.
“It speaks to the hard work from our staff, from Staci Langham (series manager) to Brian Hughes (director of operations), each of the team members that have helped build that.”
Possible IMSA Race to “Absolutely Not” Impact Indy 8H Future
Gill is adamant in saying that a potential long-distance endurance race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Indianapolis will not have any effect on the future of the Indy 8H.
He confirmed the event will return for a third consecutive year in 2022 although would not comment on the length of its multi-year contract with IMS.
“Obviously Roger Penske has made his feelings very clear about that and John Doonan has gone on record about it. So we’ll see what they put together,” said Gill.
“But here we are at the 24 Hours of Spa. They have a great F1 race; they have a great WEC race and we have a very successful 24-hour race.
“We don’t see an issue with the venue at all. Stephane [Ratel] — when we originally discussed this — he pointed that out.
“We’re very comfortable with multiple venues in Europe and we would look at it the same way with multiple series using them. That’s what Indy exists for.
“I think the key thing now is to get a stable venue for [IGTC in America]. Indy looks like that and we’re excited going into the second year. It looks really good.
“We want to build on that. Time will tell.”