Photo from nolamotor.com
New Orleans was founded by the French on May 7, 1718 when the twelve far off British colonies (Georgia would come later) were still quite happily ruled from London. It enjoyed status as the major port on the Gulf of Mexico for over a century, changing hands along the way multiple times before finally being purchased with a quarter of the continent by Jefferson from Napoleon in 1803. Cotton, yellow fever and jazz have all played major roles in the epic drama of New Orleans. More recently there’s been decline, crime and lots of grime, and now IndyCar with its near lethal aero kits is coming to town. One might think it’d be a fun – if voodoo scary – mix to behold.
Sadly, some IndyCar fans likely will be victimized by crime in New Orleans as many who visit the Big Sleazy unfortunately are. We shudder to think of the poor foreign fans who’ll be visiting, blissfully unaware of NO’s shady reputation. If flying aero kit pieces don’t get you, then the criminals may. Here are some shocking but true statistics – the violent crime rate in New Orleans was over twice the national average in both 2011 and 2012. Though slightly lower than the previous year, the murder rate in New Orleans in 2013 was still eight times the national average.
Photo from nbcnews.com
Those numbers provide some food for thought for those visiting a city that even pre-Katrina had a myriad of serious, systemic problems – including a corrupt political class and police force. French engineers strongly recommended against building a city there originally due to its location below sea level, but of course they did anyway. We predict that after the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana many similarly will wonder why anyone ever built a track down there so near America’s drain, much less why a “major series” would visit it.
Photo from people.com
Not completely down on the Big Easy, the city has extraordinary architecture especially in the Garden District, fine dining and yielded such cultural gems as Reese Witherspoon, Richard Simmons, John Goodman, John Larroquette and Emeril Lagasse. It’d probably be unkind to point out that all these stars – like the old French city itself – have their best days behind them.
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The flat road course is over two and a half miles long and “newly redesigned” according to the track’s passably adequate website. The facility’s designer is Alan Wilson, who also designed the thrilling home of IndyCar racing Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. NOLA was built from 2009-11 and has hosted mainly karting events until this year, when the IndyCar circus comes to town. The circuit for the big cars has thirteen turns and at least one long straightaway, so hopefully there’ll be some passing on track. Frankly, we’re not expecting much from Sunday’s race with new cars on a new track and plenty of new drivers in a new season.
Photo from indycar.com
If you’re a fan of processional racing at just under a hundred miles per hour or seeing Team Penske win an IndyCar race for the zillionth time, then the road course at NOLA’s probably for you. For the rest of us, NOLA may well prove to be a punishment to witness. Frankly baseball, N@$C@R and the Master’s all may be tempting viewing alternatives to a repeat performance of another Penske foreign legion rout Sunday afternoon in a swamp.
Image from Indy Race Reviewer