This past weekend I managed to hear a very, very interesting rumor on a local radio talk show (at 33:22-35:04 timestamps) that North Downtown Omaha is being scouted as a potential location for an IndyCar street circuit in the future. I haven’t been able to find anything to support this rumor apart from what was spoken on the show and that it’s at the “maybe” stage, and a profile page I found of a business broker who apparently has a history with Omaha, a passion for motorsports, brokered an Indycar sponsorship in the past, and there’s a line at the end of the profile that says he is “currently part of a group developing an Indycar street race in a major Midwestern market”. If this rumor is true though, it would be, quite frankly, totally awesome.
I don’t have much of a clue how they’d lay it out if Omaha is picked and I don’t know Indycar’s requirements for tracks and track safety. I’m quite certain they’d have it be running past TD Ameritrade Park and the CenturyLink Center, though.
Sooooooo it’s speculation time.
According to Wikipedia, the boundaries for North Downtown are I-480, 17th St, Seward St, and Riverfront Dr (as highlighted by my amazing MSPainted screenshot of the area here). There’s a plenty of ground to cover there.
There’s quite a few stretches of road that have medians (particularly Abbott Dr and through the CenturyLink Center), but I suppose those could be removed if the city really wanted. Something I seem to have heard a lot is that the city wants development along Riverfront. It looks like there might be room to establish a pit lane and garages there as well as stands if they want to develop/redevelop the area. Riverfront Dr is rather narrow and has no exits to any larger stretches of road in the middle due to railroad tracks, though the former issue could be changed by widening the road. If included, it would likely be a long fast straight until Abbott to the north, and S 8th St or the southeast CenturyLink parking lot. There is possibility of a chicane in the northern part of Riverfront and through the Lewis and Clark Landing building (but that’s really close to the building).
Speaking of the CenturyLink parking lot, there’s a ton of parking lot space in North Downtown, and Meca Dr plus the east/southeast CenturyLink parking lot area there would be a great wide open space to run through and modify to add extra turns. For most of the other parking lots, they’d need to do some modifications and get rid of the concrete posts at the entrances. I also suspect they’d want the course to run through 10th St (which would make the walkway from the Hilton to the CenturyLink Center a great observation spot). It looks like might be ehough room in the valet area in front of the Center to use as a pit lane/garages, but those trees would have to go.
Something I’m worried about is the railroads. There are two lines that run through the area: one across southern Riverfront and under Abbott, and one that runs through Cass near the onramp and through Mike Fahey, N 13th, and Cuming around TD Ameritrade. I don’t know how often those lines are used, and there would definitely need to be communication with Union Pacific (at least) if railways are going to be blocked off. I also don’t expect them to be using any roads that have onramps/offramps to I-480 nearby for safety reasons.
Some other notes/observations:
- I wish it wasn’t so, but there’s not a lot of curves around the area like Belle Isle, Toronto Exhibition Place, or St. Petersburg, so this circuit would be mostly high-speed-long-straights and/or full of 90-degree turns.
- There’s a bit of surface change around the 10th St/Capitol Ave intersection (uses bricks in some areas), so that could be slightly interesting. And there’s a couple railroad crossings.
- Capitol Ave might be usable to get to Riverfront, but it would need a bit of reworking at the underpass.
- Most of the area is flat, but there’s some minor elevation in the north around Abbott, the south at the 10th St/Capitol Ave area, and Riverfront has noticeable changes at the north and south, with a gradual change in-between.
- The TD Ameritrade parking lot looks like it would be spacious enough to run through.
- The ConAgra campus/Heartland of America Park area looks like it would have some fun turns, but that’s not in the North Downtown area, and I doubt there’s any chance of running something there anyways. Buuut just sayin’...
So yeah, that’s my take on it. I’m really hyped and hope they find a way to make this happen. I don’t know if it would happen in August 2017 like the guy was suspecting, but it’s doable within a couple years. Here’s another amazing MSPaint pic of the roads I suspect they’re looking at. Red indicates my one of my configuration ideas, blue indicates other roads I expect them to look at.