NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix is the first IndyCar race where drivers will travel over a body of water, and the unique course comes with additional safety measures.
The 2.17-mile circuit in downtown Nashville will take drivers across the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge and over the Cumberland River. Officials estimate drivers will be traveling up to 200 miles per hour on the straightaways.
"The thrill of watching those cars go across the bridge and sometimes at the same time," said John Howard, an IndyCar fan, "That’s going to be really good."
While drivers are on the track, members of the Nashville Office of Emergency Management Emergency Support Unit will be on standby on the water. Boat crews, dive crews, support crews will be ready to help if needed.
Officials say being in place will help expedite their response.
"What would take a few minutes could take few seconds," said Major David Crane with the Nashville Office of Emergency Management. "At a point when you only have a few seconds, that is critical."
Dive teams are typically on standby in downtown for special events.
In addition, Crane said any time drivers are on the track, no recreational boating will be allowed on the Cumberland River. Commercial boats will be held until activities end on the track. This is the same policy that was in effect when there were fireworks in downtown.
Music City Grand Prix officials say the course doesn't bring additional safety concerns, and they don't anticipate any problems.
"All of the same safety measures are in place at every IndyCar event," said Chris Parker, President of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. "Safety is first and foremost."
Parker said initially the Korean Veterans Bridge was not part of the course, but the change was made to highlight something that is unique to Nashville. He said it would present new challenges for drivers and breathtaking views for fans.
"I think this is bigger and different than anything people have done or seen in Nashville," said Parker. "I am hoping people come out and enjoy it and soak it all in."