This article was posted as an April Fool’s joke.
The puzzling design for DDOT’s South Capitol Street project has become much more clear as the DC Spors and Entertainment Commission rolled out a plan to host regular auto races on the track.
In a press conference today, Mayor Gray announced plans to host an IndyCar race as soon as the project is complete. “DC is joining the ranks of other world-class cities like Toronto and Monaco in hosting a race on our city streets,” the mayor said. “The same cars and drivers that race at the Indianapolis 500 will be racing here.”
IndyCar officials expressed surprise that a city would build what appears to be a purpose-built racetrack. “Usually for our street races, we make do with city streets that people use every day, like in Houston or Long Beach. To have a city build an oval for us is a real treat. I mean, clearly that circle can’t be great for moving pedestrians or cars, can it?” said Mark Miles, CEO of IndyCar parent company Hulman & Company.
IndyCar drivers on hand for the announcement praised the course layout. “It looks to be fast and very wide, which should make for some great racing,” said driver Will Power. “It’s almost perfectly built for us.”
Indeed the course has a very similar shape to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire, which is known as a “paper clip” oval as its long straights and tight turns resemble a paper clip.
This is actually not the city’s first foray into auto racing. In 2002, DC hosted an American Le Mans Series race in the parking lot of RFK Stadium. You can still make out the outline of the track today. The race only ran one year after noise complaints from neighbors. “We don’t think that will be an issue here,” said Gray. “People here are used to cars whizzing by.”
National Park Service representatives said they should have no objection to using federal land for the racetrack, as their regulations only make it very difficult to place playgrounds, food vendors, or pleasant places to sit in federal parkland, none of which the racetrack requires.
Meanwhile, the National Capital Planning Commission chairman Bryan Preston said the race will work well with their plans to put another memorial in the circle, which will probably be unappealing for people to interact with as a city park but will be perfect for cars to drive around and around all day.