IRL: 10th season to kick off with "Green Flag Tour"

Indy Racing League kicks off 10th season with "Green Flag Tour" INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2005 -- In celebration of the start of the 10th season of IRL IndyCar® Series racing, the Indy Racing League announced it will launch a 14-day,...

Indy Racing League kicks off 10th season with "Green Flag Tour"

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2005 -- In celebration of the start of the 10th season of IRL IndyCar® Series racing, the Indy Racing League announced it will launch a 14-day, 13-city "Green Flag Tour."

The tour, which will carry the green flag that will be used to start the season-opening Toyota Indy 300, will begin Feb. 21 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and conclude at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 6. Along the way, the flag will travel some 7,500 miles, visiting nine of the country's biggest cities and 10 markets that will host IndyCar Series events.

"For the past nine seasons, the IndyCar Series has delivered some of the most exciting racing on the planet," said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer of the IRL. "The Green Flag Tour will help build even more excitement and keep our millions of fans nationwide on the edge of their seats."

During the two-week event, select drivers from the league will tour the country along with a Chevy SSR safety vehicle and an Indy Racing Experience two-seater designed to provide passengers with the rare opportunity to ride in a real IndyCar Series vehicle. Additionally, TV and radio personality Jack Arute will travel with and report from the "Green Flag Tour." Arute is ABC Sports' top pit reporter and has been a member of the Indianapolis 500 broadcast team since 1984.

"The Green Flag Tour is an incredible opportunity to showcase the high technology, excitement, spirit and fan-friendliness of the IndyCar Series and its drivers," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president, business affairs for the IRL. "This tour will engage our fans and help introduce even more people to this cutting-edge sport."

Drivers scheduled to participate include 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and Danica Patrick (from Rahal Letterman Racing), 2003 IndyCar Series Bombardier Rookie of the Year Dan Wheldon and Dario Franchitti (Andretti Green Racing), 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, Darren Manning and Ryan Briscoe (Chip Ganassi Racing), Tomas Scheckter (Panther Racing), Alex Barron and Patrick Carpentier (Red Bull Cheever Racing), Scott Sharp (Delphi Fernandez Racing), and A.J. Foyt IV (A.J. Foyt Racing).

Team co-owners Michael Andretti and Adrian Fernandez, plus four-time Indianapolis 500 winner and Indy Racing League special projects coordinator Johnny Rutherford also will participate at select stops.

Sponsors of the Green Flag Tour include Chevrolet, Honda, Toyota, Target, Jim Beam, Delphi, Firestone, Pennzoil, 7-Eleven, Pioneer, TAG Heuer and Red Bull.

Beginning with the March 6 race and concluding on Oct. 16, the 2005 IndyCar Series season includes 17 races in the United States and Japan, including the "Greatest Spectacle In Racing," the Indianapolis 500. The series, which is known for its hallmark, wheel-to-wheel excitement at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour, debuts its all-out competition on street and road events later this year with three brand new events on its schedule.

The Chevy SSR will serve as the official pace vehicle for all 2005 IndyCar Series events, with the exception of the Indianapolis 500 in May. This marks the second-consecutive season that a truck-based Chevrolet will lead the charge to the green flag, while continuing General Motors' tradition of leading the IndyCar Series field, which began with the League's first race in 1996.

The IndyCar Series Green Flag Tour will be managed by Ignition, Inc., an Atlanta-based company that is known for creating unforgettable branded experiences through experiential marketing, strategic marketing and marketing innovations to help make lasting, emotional consumer connections around the world. Ignition, Inc. has managed the IndyCar Series Fan Experience since its inception in 2003.

The Green Flag Tour will race into the following locations on the path to the regular season opener:

<pre> Date City Feb. 21 Indianapolis Feb. 22 Denver Feb. 23 San Francisco Feb. 24-25 Los Angeles Feb. 26 Phoenix Feb. 27 Dallas Feb. 28 Chicago March 1 Detroit March 2-3 New York March 3 Washington, D.C. March 4 Atlanta March 5 St. Petersburg, Fla. March 6 Miami

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Darren Manning , Scott Sharp , Michael Andretti , A.J. Foyt IV , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Brian Barnhart , Jim Beam , Danica Patrick , Johnny Rutherford
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing