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Best of Indy: Amateur Racetrack
IndyCar driver and Yahoo! Autos editor-at-large Alex Lloyd takes a spin at the local Putnam Park Road Course—now open to the public and sporting the best racing clubhouse this side of the pagoda.
For a town built on racing, Indy has been noticeably lean on racetracks. Sure, there’s that little one in Speedway. But short of the Fastimes go-karting facility near Castleton, where can the amateur go to express his inner Foyt?
Putnam Park Road Course, just west of the city, has been around since the early ’90s. Until recently, it was primarily used as a training ground for pro race teams. But it gave the green flag to the public in early 2013, unveiling a membership program and a shiny new clubhouse.
I had driven Putnam five years ago, but I was pleasantly surprised by the facilities upon my return. There are large, professional-grade garages for the cars, and the owners have decked out the clubhouse like a trendy New York cigar lounge. With flat-screen TVs, pool tables, a full bar, and even poker tables, the new digs are almost enough to entice you to skip the pavement altogether—almost.
This fall, I took some refresher laps in a Subaru BRZ, a rear-wheel-drive sports car. The track’s front straightaway is long and fast, allowing even my modest Subaru to reach 120 miles per hour. Of the eight turns, No. 4 is the trickiest. It’s easy to over-drive, causing a wild slide. Fortunately, the runoff areas are huge for those prone to veering off course. And with 140 days of open racing a year, there are never more than a few cars on-track.
The course’s 40 current members enjoy unlimited racing during that period, along with use of the clubhouse. But like a swanky golf club, membership doesn’t come cheap. An individual package costs $7,500 for three years, with an additional $5,000 due annually. If you’ve got the green, the $30,000 lifetime membership—still costing a further $5,000 per year—includes a relative.
So think of Putnam like joining Crooked Stick. It’s expensive, sure, but deluxe. And let’s face it: No amount of money is going to entice the IMS to open its doors for unsupervised racing.
5251 S. County Rd. 550 E., Greencastle, 765-526-2290, putnampark.com.
Photo by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the December 2013 issue.