Open wheel racing is back and in full swing. Formula 1 kicked off this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Indycar also ran the Baltimore GP Sunday, and we have a suspicious set of railroad tracks to thank for all the excitement.
Plans are progressing steadily to run two F1 races in the US next year – in New Jersey, the Grand Prix of America; and at the Circuit of the Americas, the United States Grand Prix. Remind us to ask Bernie Ecclestone to switch those names around so they’re easier to remember.
All this American open-wheel activity has us thinking: could we plant a Grand Prix race somewhere a bit more central? You don’t need a race track to race, as open-wheelers are more than happy to demonstrate. We’re a little biased, since the Streetside HQ is here, but we think Kansas City would make one heck of a Grand Prix location. Here’s how it would go down:
Start things up on the ponderously-titled Emmanual Cleaver II Boulevard, or as we call it, “Cleaver.” Race west until you hit Brookside, and pull a hard left. Wave to the fans in the bleachers we’ll drop on those expensive tennis courts. Take the cutaway for a quick right onto Ward Parkway, then another right up Wyandotte.
This is the only corner people won’t be watching you. They’ll be too busy with their Jack Stack Barbecue. It’s okay. Let them enjoy it. Next it’s a left onto 47th, the Plaza’s main drag and the course’s longest straight. F1 racers, mash your KERS here. Indycar pilots, push to pass.
Now we know what you’re thinking: what good is a street course without any tunnels to trumpet the scientific achievements of engine-builders? Never fear. Across the street from Ruth’s Chris Steak House you’ll find a parking garage. Dart left into a forest of dangerous concrete pillars. Wave to the fans covering their ears. Hang another left and emerge from the parking cave and head straight down picturesque Nichols Road for a block before cutting right on Pennsylvania Avenue and dropping downhill toward the river.
Make sure to turn before you get wet. It’s another sharp left back onto Ward, followed by a run across the Broadway bridge, where you’ll pick Ward back up on the other side of the water. Follow Ward for a mad run along the river until you get to Brookside, then hang a right for a slight chicane around 49th Street. We couldn’t have you getting out of control.
Follow the river until you find the Rockhill Road bridge, then take that back up north to Cleaver. Repeat. When you need a break, you’ll find Pit Lane just north of the aforementioned tennis courts. It’s about 2.5 miles, which is plenty.
We picked the Plaza District of Kansas City for its red-tile roofs and faux-arabian pinnacles. But it has several other advantages, too. Between Ward Parkway, Brookside, and three actual parks, there will be plenty of grass seating for us common folk. The rich can line the rooftops or rent helicopters.
It’s a great area for fans to mill around. Some of the best restaurants in Kansas City line the avenues. You’ll find Buca di Beppo, Fogo de Chao, Cold du Stone, PF Chang’s, and the world-renowned McCormick and Schmick’s Seafood. But if you really want to stop messing around, just get some Jack Stack. About a dozen hotels stand within walking distance of the course, too, so you won’t have to sneak into the racing trailers to catch a few winks.
Parking might be an issue. The Plaza always has plenty of space, but it also always doesn’t host huge auto races. There are at least a half-dozen garages in the area, but they’ll be jammed a week prior to the race, and getting out of them will be impossible. We recommend that race organizers rent the parking lots out at the Kansas City Sports Complex, which houses Arrowhead and Royals Stadia. A ten minute shuttle into the city will be preferable to a 16 hour traffic jam out.
Frankly, Kansas City is smack-dab in the middle of the country. You can’t get much more central for us poor, American, open-wheel-starved race fans. Nor do we see much racing in our area that isn’t elliptical or straight-vector in nature. Nothing against drag strips or oval tracks, but we need some twisties.
So there it is. If anyone works for F1 or IndyCar and wants to forward this to Bernie Ecclestone or Randy Bernard, please feel free. We’re Kansas City, and we’d love to meet them.
What about your city? It (obviously) wouldn’t be as cool as our KCGP track, but would an open-wheel street course work in your area? If so, and if you have a few minutes, we’d like to see it. Put one together in Google Maps like we did and send us the link or just take a screenshot. We’ll repost the 5 coolest user-submitted tracks next week!