FICTION AND FACT -- HERE'S WHICH IS WHICH
INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 4, 1996 -- In order to clarify some of the issues surrounding our sport, the Indy Racing League has presented the facts to answer the most frequent misrepresentations and misunderstandings that have come forth as follows: ***
FICTION: Twenty-five of the 33 starting spots in the 1996 Indianapolis 500 have been guaranteed to IRL teams.
FACT: There are no guaranteed spots in the Indianapolis 500 field. If a top-25 car in IRL owner points after the Phoenix 200 enters and completes a four-lap qualifying attempt at Indianapolis within a percentage (to be determined) of the pole speed, the car's in the show. EVERYTHING ELSE STAYS THE SAME. ***
FICTION: The first 25 positions in the Indianapolis 500 field are reserved for IRL competitors.
FACT: No individual starting positions are reserved in the field. As stated above, EVERYTHING ELSE STAYS THE SAME. The pole is decided by the fastest qualifier either on the first day or after the original qualifying line is completed, whichever comes last...the same as 1995 and before. ***
FICTION: The percentage hasn't been announced, so CART teams don't know their chances of making the field, or what speed it'll take to make it.
FACT: Nobody else knows, either, regardless of the percentage. Nobody knows, any year, on Jan. 4, what it'll take to make the Indianapolis 500 field. The percentage will be announced prior to qualifying at each IRL event. ***
FICTION: The percentage allows an unfair governing procedure as to who makes the field.
FACT: Percentages of the pole time to ALLOW cars in fields have been part of rule books for years, very similar to the IRL rule, in order to protect the quality of fields. The IRL rule does just that, and at the same time offers a "perk" to the top cars in IRL owner points. In CART during 1995, the figure was 115 percent for all races. (Source: 1995 IndyCar Rule Book, Chapter 6.17.1, page 20, which states: "Eligibility. In addition to the requirements set forth herein, a race car or driver that has not demonstrated the ability to run with consistency and safety with other competitors at a speed greater than one hundred fifteen percent (115%) of the time posted by the fastest qualified race car and driver during practice or qualifying for a competition, may be denied a starting position for that competition by the Chief Steward.") Both Formula One and IMSA have also had percentage procedures in their histories. ***
FICTION: CART car owners and drivers have been "locked out" of the Indianapolis 500.
FACT: No drivers or owners have been locked out of any IRL event, including the Indianapolis 500, in any sense of the words. All CART owners and prospective IRL team owners received entry invitations for the first IRL event at Orlando. All CART and IRL teams will receive entry invitations to the Phoenix 200 and Indianapolis 500. Accepting or declining to enter is up to them. ***
FICTION: The IRL created scheduling conflicts to deny participation to CART owners.
FACT: On Jan. 23, 1995 at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resorts in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., the IRL announced the dates for the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World and the Indianapolis 500. On April 3, the IRL announced that Phoenix and Las Vegas would be on the 1996 schedule, saying dates were "yet to be finalized in order to blend without conflict into the full year's schedule of races expected to be run with similar cars by Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc." (Source: IRL news release 95-05). The dates for Phoenix and Las Vegas were announced on April 13. On May 30, the IRL announced an additional race at Loudon, N.H., for Aug. 18, 1996. On June 10, CART announced its schedule, showing Elkhart Lake on the same weekend as Loudon. Later, CART announced its Brazil date, putting the IRL's Phoenix 200 on a weekend between CART's Australia and Brazil dates. USAC's Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis was not formally announced (and hasn't ever been since it's not open to the public) but has been held on the weekend prior to the official opening of the track for the last 12 years of its 15-year history. In 1996, that's the weekend of April 28. CART scheduled its Nazareth race for April 28 weekend. ***
FICTION: CART's Elkhart Lake date on Aug. 18, 1996 is a "traditional" date.
FACT: On that weekend in CART history, the date has been "open" seven times, at Loudon twice, at Elkhart Lake twice, at Pocono five times and at Trenton once. Elkhart Lake's date has been, since CART started running there in 1982, on the second weekend in July (1 time), last weekend in July (1), first weekend in August (2), third weekend in August (2), last weekend in August (1), second weekend in September (3) and third weekend in September (4). (Source: IndyCar Record Book, 1995 edition, pages 31-35.) ***
FICTION: The IRL's Phoenix date was selected to deliberately keep CART teams from being able to compete.
FACT: CART's Brazil date was selected and announced more than two months after the IRL's Phoenix date was selected and announced. Since 1995 model or earlier cars must be used in the IRL, teams could send their 1995 cars to Phoenix while they took 1996 models to Brazil, then fly to Phoenix to participate, as one of many travel possibilities. ***
FICTION: Competitors must have committed to enter all races in the IRL series to be allowed to run any of them.
FACT: There is no such requirement and there never has been any such requirement. ***
FICTION: The IRL has put fans in the position of choosing sides in regard to the Indianapolis 500 and the CART U.S. 500 at Michigan.
FACT: Although it is the traditional Indianapolis 500 date of Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, the May 26 date for the 1996 Indianapolis 500 was announced in concert with the Walt Disney World event on Jan. 23, 1995. Ticket order/renewal blanks, as is the longtime tradition, were in the 1995 Indianapolis 500 souvenir program, available throughout the Speedway grounds last May. On Dec. 18, more than 10 months after the announcement of the traditional and accepted date for the Indianapolis 500, CART announced the U.S. 500 for May 26. ***
FICTION: The IRL wants to discourage foreign participation.
FACT: Stephan Gregoire (France), Eliseo Salazar (Chile) and Michele Alboreto (Italy) are all entered in cars at Orlando. The IRL is in discussion with both foreign and domestic automakers about engine programs for its newly-announced 4-liter engine formula to take effect Jan. 1, 1997. The IRL is also in discussion with both foreign and domestic car builders for the future. --IRL--