WEST ALLIS, Wis. — During a Firestone tire test 10 days ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan expressed their desire for an increased number of short tracks on the IZOD IndyCar Series calendar.
A return of the series to the 1-mile oval in Loudon, N.H., after a 13-year absence was announced back in June, which was paired with the fifth annual race at the .875-mile Iowa Speedway for 2011. Now the former series champions, who have a combined 10 short-oval victories, will have the opportunity to compete at The Milwaukee Mile again on June 19.
The historic racetrack is among 17 venues the IZOD IndyCar Series will visit in 2011 (the 17th â€“ the season finale on an oval in October â€“ will be announced at a later date). The schedule was unveiled in the infield of The Mile, where the series competed from 2004-09 and which has played host to sanctioned Indy car races since before World War II, by IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard.
â€œItâ€™s the best short track in the country,â€ said Dixon, the 2009 race winner. â€œI canâ€™t wait to go back because the racing is mega. Who can beat over 100 years of racing at one place?â€
New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Aug. 14) and the Baltimore Grand Prix (Sept. 4) are new events for 2011. St. Petersburgâ€™s scenic and challenging street course will play host to the opener March 27. The 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, preceded by two weeks of practice and qualifications, is scheduled for May 29. Special Centennial Era activities are planned for the month.
The lineup again is the most diverse in motorsport â€“ eight ovals, six street circuits and three permanent road courses.
â€œIt was important that the IZOD IndyCar Series continue to strike a balance between ovals and non-ovals to maintain our claim to the most diverse racing schedule in the world,â€ Bernard said. â€œWe want to have the best drivers in the world, and itâ€™s important that our schedule truly challenges the best through short ovals, speedways, temporary circuits and road courses.”
Returning to The Mile — because of its Indy car history and exciting on-track product — was a priority for Bernard.
â€œAs tomorrow marks the 107th anniversary of the first race ever held at The Milwaukee Mile, it is only appropriate that we hold our 2011 schedule unveiling at this facility today,â€ he said. â€œWe all appreciate the heritage and legacy of this sport while looking at all the new opportunities we have to grow.
â€œIndyCar is entering a new and exciting era. Fortunately, this brings opportunities with new venues and promoters that are fully aligned with our strategy moving forward. We are committed to working with our partners and listening to our fans about what they want as we do and what is in the best interest of the sport.
â€œThe Milwaukee Mile is an important track in the heritage and legacy of open-wheel racing in the U.S. The fans have been passionate about seeing it return to the schedule so we’re pleased we could deliver it.â€
The Milwaukee Mile, which has been operated as part of the Wisconsin State Fair since 1891, did not play host to the IZOD IndyCar Series this year because of the lack of a promoter approved by the Fair Park Board, which was forced to terminate the contract with the existing promoter following the â€™09 racing season.
AB Promotions — a joint venture between Avocado Motorsports Marketing and BMG Event Productions — has filled that gap for 2011. Avocado, a Carmel, Ind.-based company, also has a tie with The Mile â€“ managing director Chris McGrathâ€™s father, Richard, was general manager of the racetrack in the 1980s.
AB Promotions will use three-tiered pricing for the 40,000-seat venue, and it will work closely with state government and business leaders and the Wisconsin State Fair Park Board on promotional activities and sponsorship opportunities. Call 800-722-3840 or go to www.milwaukeemile2011.com for ticket info.
“We are also optimistic about continuing the efforts in subsequent years, so we are highly driven to make this a successful and enjoyable event for all parties involved,” said McGrath, who noted the company has negotiated with the Wisconsin State Fair Park Board and the IZOD IndyCar Series to secure a long-term agreement.
“We recognize the challenges The Milwaukee Mile has experienced in recent years. Weâ€™re certain that we can deliver an exciting event weekend using a simple, financially well-grounded approach. We want to be back for 2012, building an even higher-value event on the solid foundation of success established in 2011.â€
BMG Event Productions, which this year has overseen the successful IZOD “Race to the Party” promotion among other series-related ventures, will handle all aspects of event management, including facilities and equipment oversight and operation, as well as logistics for all associated entertainment and activities.
“While there is nothing like the thrill of a great competition among the cars and drivers on the track, we have some excellent strategies for creating added value for both race sponsors and event guests off the track, too,” company president George Sechrist said. “Our partnership with Avocado will be a great way to make sure Fatherâ€™s Day weekend in Milwaukee is a great time for everyone.â€
Kanaan, who won at the track in 2006 and â€™07, said he appreciates the technical nature of competing on the flat track in addition to its history.
â€œHaving Milwaukee back on the schedule is great for the IZOD IndyCar Series and something that I am very happy about,â€ said Kanaan, who enters the penultimate race of the season (at Twin Ring Motegi on Sept. 19) with fourth- and fifth-place finishes his past two oval races. â€œThere is so much history with that track and it is a driverâ€™s track. I think you can ask any driver and they will always prefer to go to a place where they can make a difference in their outcome â€“ a place where it is as much driver as it is car. That is what Milwaukee is all about.
â€œOne of the real strengths of our series and of our championship is that it is not one-dimensional. You have to be good on all kinds of circuits if you want to be a contender for the title. And the short ovals play a big part in that. With three of them on the schedule for next year, it is going to demand that you are on top of your game and are up to the challenge.â€
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series television schedule and the Firestone Indy Lights schedule will be announced at a later date.
|27-Mar||Streets of St. Petersburg||1.8-mile street course|
|10-Apr||Barber Motorsports Park||2.3-mile road course|
|17-Apr||Streets of Long Beach||1.968-mile street course|
|1-May||Streets of Sao Paulo||2.536-mile street course|
|29-May||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||2.5-mile oval|
|June 11*||Texas Motor Speedway||1.5-mile oval|
|19-Jun||The Milwaukee Mile||1-mile oval|
|June 25*||Iowa Speedway||.875-mile oval|
|10-Jul||Streets of Toronto||1.755-mile street course|
|24-Jul||Edmonton City Centre Airport||1.973-mile airport course|
|Aug. 7||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course||2.258-mile road course|
|Aug. 14||New Hampshire Motor Speedway||1-mile oval|
|Aug. 28||Infineon Raceway||2.303-mile road course|
|Sept. 4||Streets of Baltimore||2-mile street course|
|Sept. 18||Twin Ring Motegi||1.5-mile oval|
|Oct. 2||Kentucky Speedway||1.5-mile oval|
Schedule subject to change