The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is giving Tony Stewart one heck of a retirement gift.
“Indianapolis Motor Speedway is building Tony Stewart a going away present of sorts, a 3/16th-mile dirt track inside Turn 3 of the big oval. Scott Horner/IndyStar
Tony Stewart, who is retiring from NASCAR at season’s end, will receive a going-away gift from Indianapolis Motor Speedway next week that will encourage him to return.
IMS is giving Stewart a dirt track inside Turn 3.
Yes, that Turn 3.
The plan, IMS president Doug Boles said Tuesday, is to install a 3/16th-mile oval for Stewart’s media appearance July 5. Several teams that own dirt midgets have been invited for what amounts to an exhibition. It stands to reason Stewart will take anyone’s offer to take a spin around the new oval, and he might even be the first to do so.
Stewart was told of the plan last weekend, Boles said.
Assuming things come together as expected, IMS will modify the track so it’s large enough to host sprint cars, too.
“Tony doesn’t want gifts, per se, but we thought this was a great way to marry his love for dirt-track racing with his love for racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Boles told IndyStar.
For the July 5 test run, the dirt track will not have fencing, and the banking will be minimal – maybe 6 inches, Boles said – but all aspects of the presentation will be considered for the final product.
As for the real estate the dirt track will encompass, Boles said it will still be able to serve as primary infield parking area for major oval-track events such as the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400.
Stewart has twice won the Cup race at IMS, but the July 24 race is scheduled to be his final start on the oval. Well, the big oval, anyway.”
Follow IndyStar reporter Curt Cavin on Facebook and Twitter: @curtcavin