INDIANAPOLIS, August 6, 2003 - The Indy Racing League will add the historic Milwaukee Mile to its list of venues in 2004, visiting the 100-year-old mile oval during the final weekend of July for the first time in League history.
IRL president and CEO Tony George expressed pleasure with the addition. "The Milwaukee Mile and Indy-style racing have had a long and storied history," George remarked of the circuit, which held its first auto race in 1903. "We look forward to bringing the drivers of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and IRL back to Milwaukee and to a track that will showcase our wheel-to-wheel racing."
The Milwaukee Mile has undergone restoration over the past year or so, culminating with new grandstands that add comfort for fans. "We couldn't be happier or more excited to add the IRL IndyCar Series to the 2004 schedule," noted Martin J. Greenberg, Wisconsin State Fair Park Board chairman.
"The IRL has really come of age in popularity. Tony George and his entire staff have revitalized open wheel racing in this country and beyond," Greenberg emphasized. "In turn, we revitalized [the track] as we celebrate our 100th anniversary.
"We've had an incredible 100th season so far and to be able to cap it off with such an important addition to our schedule shows the racing community and our fans that we're serious about bringing this great racetrack into the next century by offering the best and most exciting racing in the world."
Two IndyCar Series drivers were on hand for the announcement this afternoon, held during the ongoing Wisconsin State Fair. Every Indy 500 champion since 1946 has competed at the historic Milwaukee Mile save Graham Hill.
Kenny Brack, driver of Team Rahal's #15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda, who took victory at The Mile in 2001 is pleased to return to the site of that win. "It is very exciting to bring the IRL IndyCar Series to Milwaukee. The track has such a great history and tradition of Indy-style racing and I really think next year's race will be a tremendous race for the drivers, teams and fans.
"I won at Milwaukee and the racetrack is wide and good for passing. A driver will be able to race side by side and that is something we are always looking for at a track," Brack emphasized. "We have some of the best racing in the world in the IndyCar Series and I think we'll show that again here."
Two-time Milwaukee Mile winner (1990, 1994) Al Unser Jr., driver of Kelley Racing's #31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota agreed with his competitor. "It's going to be great to go back to The Milwaukee Mile. It's a great race track and there is a lot of history. I think it will be suitable for the IndyCar Series cars and that we will continue the tradition of great races at the Mile.
"I can remember going there as a kid and watching my dad race. I'm looking forward to going back. It's going to be great," two-time Indy 500 victor Unser stressed. Father Al Unser has four Indy-style victories at The Mile on his long win list, in 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1976.
Others involved with the Indy Racing League who own Milwaukee Mile wins are Michael Andretti with four (1987, 1987, 1991, 1992). A.J. Foyt Jr. also has four wins in 1962, 1964, 1975 and 1979. Infiniti Pro Series driver coach and consultant Rick Mears took Penske Racing victories in 1978, 1988 and 1989, while his team owner has a total of five, the others coming with Bobby (1980) and Al Unser (1994).
Pace car driver and IRL Special Projects manager Johnny Rutherford was first to the Milwaukee Mile checkers in 1974, 1977 (twice) and 1980, while team owner Chip Ganassi's drivers Jimmy Vasser (1998) and Juan Pablo Montoya (2000) brought him victor's spoils.
While broadcast schedules are currently being worked out for the 2004 IRL season, IRL officials indicated its regular broadcast team of either ABC Sports of ESPN will have televised coverage of the race, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network will provide their radio broadcast.
Neither the Indy Racing League nor The Milwaukee Mile indicated the length of the two contests for the IndyCar and Infiniti Pro Series, scheduled for July 25th next year. Those particulars will be ironed out in the near future, the League stated.