By Michael Marot
The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is taking a different tack to bring fans to the track this May — a road race.
On Thursday, the speedway’s board of directors voted to add a second IndyCar race in May at the historic Brickyard. It’s the first time IndyCar drivers will compete on something other than Indy’s 2.5-mile oval, and it’s the first time they’ll prepare for two races in one season at the speedway. The road race is scheduled for the weekend of May 10-11, two weeks ahead of the series’ marquee event, the Indianapolis 500. Finals details have not yet been worked out.
Organizers are hoping the addition will help improve attendance and rejuvenate interest in a series that has struggled to regain its fan base since the contentious split with the now-defunct CART series that took place nearly two decades ago.
“The great thing about having Mark Miles here is that he’s made all of us think differently and think about new ways to revive not only the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but to help the IndyCar Series grow,” speedway president Doug Boles said after the vote. “This is an organization that wants to move forward, wants to celebrate the Indianapolis 500 and wants to celebrate the month of May.”
Road racing at Indy didn’t even seem a realistic possibility until the series remodeled its cars in 2012, making them capable of running on all three racing circuits — road, street and oval courses.
Speculation increased when it appeared the MotoGP series might bypass Indy, a loss that would have meant Indy’s road course was only going to be used by the sports cars during NASCAR’s race weekend in late July. MotoGP has since announced it will be back at Indy next season, but the contract expires after the 2014 race.
And after IndyCar drivers gave the course good reviews following a test three weeks ago, the idea gained traction.
Miles, the CEO of IndyCar’s parent company, Hulman & Co., supported the move all along but remained cautious about what direction the vote would go. It turned out, the board couldn’t pass it up.
“This event will bring even more energy and action to the month of May for fans and create another showcase for the diversity and excitement of the speedway and the IndyCar Series,” Miles said in a statement. “The new road race will further enhance the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the premier motorsports destination in the world and direct an even brighter spotlight on the Indianapolis 500.”