Indianapolis Motor Speedway to Host U.S. Grand Prix in 2000
by David Reininger - Motorsport News International
Indianapolis, IN (December 2, 1998) - Tony George, President and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, announced plans today for the USGP Formula One race to find a permanent home at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. George announced the plans at a press conference today at the Speedway. Present at today's announcement were Burdette Martin, President of ACCUS and Chuck Bolling, president of the Speedway, Ind. Town Council. Bernie Eccelstone participated in the announcement by telephone.
"This is very important day for the State of Indiana, the City of Indianapolis, and the Town of Speedway, as well as the Hulman-George family", said George.
"The United States Grand Prix will join the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 at world's most famous speedway, underscoring the words that are chiseled in stone over the entrance to this building, "The Racing Capitol of the World".
"We plan to assist Formula One in reestablishing the Grand Prix in the United States. There is no better foundation for it than right here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."
In order to accommodate a Grand Prix race, the Speedway will have to build garages to FIA specifications in addition to adding the infield road course. Although no date has been set for the first race in the year 2000, George wanted to make an announcement prior to starting construction of new facilities.
"We needed to announce and confirm the fact that we were indeed, going to have a race so that we could begin a rather aggressive construction program to accommodate this additional event. Construction will begin immediately on the road course," George announced. "The pit side garages and the other elements important for a world class facility will also begin immediately."
The circuit will include the south short chute and front straight of the oval. Running the opposite direction of the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 on the front straight, the F-1 cars will enter the infield just before reaching turn four on the oval. Three turns will comprise the north section of the infield circuit before the cars will run south on Hulman Blvd., down the center of the Speedway. A left turn will send the cars behind the museum where the cars will encounter a series of turns before reentering the oval on the south chute. Turn thirteen of the circuit is the same as turn one of the Indy 500 except it will be run in the opposite direction.
The pit area will see substantial change with the south half of the pit lane being reconfigured to accommodate 36 garages and twelve luxury suites above the garages. The suites are expected to be similar to existing suites at the Speedway, accommodating 150 people in each. For the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 the suites will be subdivided into three smaller suites.
When asked about the level of investment to bring Formula One to the Speedway, George responded, "It is substantial and I really can't get into exact figures. It can get into the tens of millions of dollars. It just further demonstrates our commitment to re-investing in this facility, maintaining it as the greatest race course in the world. It's part of our heritage and part of our culture to invest not only in the facility, but in our community."
When asked about the decision to bring Formula One to the Speedway, Bernie Eccelstone responded, "We're honored to actually be invited to be racing at the Speedway. It was a number one target anyway. It's the obvious place for us to be."