INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - The pressure and heat will both be turned up for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday with weather forecasters predicting the race could be the hottest on record.
With the temperature expected to climb above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) and track temperatures soaring well into the 100s it will be new steamy territory for drivers and their cars which have never before operated in such extreme conditions at the Brickyard.
Drivers will be strapped into their machines for more than three hours while navigating the treacherous 2.5-mile oval in what could be diabolical conditions.
Forecasters on Saturday were predicting a high of 94F (34.4C) on race day which would smash the record of 92F (33.3C) set at the 1937 Indy 500.
Only six times in more than a century of racing at the famed Brickyard have temperatures hit 90F or higher.
“It’s concerning but nobody, none of us, have run at that type of heat,” said 2013 winner Tony Kanaan after recording the top speed in final practice on Friday. “I think if you talk to every driver everybody is concerned because we’re going to have to be doing a lot more work with your tools in the car.
“I remember in 2013 when I won, I haven’t made a single change in that car in a single pit stop, not front wing, not tire pressures, nothing.
“I think every stop we’ll be making a change here. And in the middle of the race you’re going to think I’m awesome, and then it’s going to get three degrees hotter, and you’re going to go, where did that car go?
“Everybody is really worried. Everybody is on the edge.”
The sizzling conditions will also present challenges for fans and workers.
With 300,000-plus spectators expected to fill the sprawling speedway, police and emergency personnel are bracing themselves for a long day.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials have repeatedly warned spectators of heat dangers and to take precautions.
Officials also warned that security, on heightened alert following a shooting at a nearby middle school on Friday, will again be tight and fans should be prepared for queues.
Editing by Clare Fallon