For Immediate Release IRL WILL ASSUME SANCTIONING DUTIES Indianapolis, June 16, 1997 -- The Indy Racing League (IRL) will assume the sanctioning and officiating responsibilities for all of its races, beginning with the Samsonite 200 at...
For Immediate Release
IRL WILL ASSUME SANCTIONING DUTIES
Indianapolis, June 16, 1997 -- The Indy Racing League (IRL) will assume the sanctioning and officiating responsibilities for all of its races, beginning with the Samsonite 200 at Pike's Peak International Raceway in Colorado Springs on June 29, it was announced today by IRL and United States Auto Club (USAC) officials.
"This decision was reached after discussions with USAC and IRL officials, and officials of both organizations are supportive of the decision and have pledged mutual cooperation in carrying it out," said Tony George, founder of the IRL, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and member of the USAC board of directors.
"Recent events have led us to conclude that the Indy Racing League needs to move officiating in-house to ensure better communications with our teams," said Leo Mehl, executive director of the IRL. "Many functions of a sanctioning body are already being performed by the IRL, and we will now assume full responsibility for technical inspections, timing and scoring, operations of race control, as well as other duties of a sanctioning body."
The IRL already is responsible for scheduling races, activities and open tests, negotiating with promoters, determining purses, fire and safety procedures and overseeing technical and safety committees, all activities usually done by a sanctioning body.
Richard King, president of USAC, pledged the full cooperation of his organization and its personnel in the transition. "USAC has always been supportive of the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we will continue to be in any way we can," King said. "I expect this transition will go smoothly, and we look forward to cooperation with the IRL as we continue to sanction other race series that provide for vital development of oval track racing in this country." USAC sanctions 10 other series and racing events, totaling about 200 races annually.
King noted that USAC and the IRL had shared sanctioning duties since the League's founding in 1995. "As the IRL makes the transition to full sanctioning of its events, we will do all we can to make sure the League is prepared for its new duties."
"My grandfather Tony Hulman was instrumental in the founding of USAC in 1955, and there has always been and will continue to be a close relationship between us and USAC. All of us recognize and appreciate USAC's contribution to the Indianapolis 500, the IRL and to all of auto racing," said George, who noted he will continue to serve on USAC's board.
"I believe it is time in the growth and development of the IRL to control our own destiny, and I believe centralizing all sanctioning functions under our direct control will improve communications with our teams as well as with other organizations in motorsports," said Mehl. "While we had been planning to do our own sanctioning in the future, recent events have moved up our schedule. We will be ready to go for Colorado Springs."
Mehl said that he will announce who will fill key positions in the near future, and he said that some current USAC officials could be included. The decision making level will consist of new leadership, Mehl said.
"I have been in racing for more than 30 years, and I appreciate the dedication and hard work of the many USAC officials, employees and volunteers who deserve much credit for how grass roots oval racing has developed in the United States," Mehl said. "I know that all of us will continue to work closely with USAC as they continue to help develop the talent of tomorrow at race tracks across the United States with the goal of competing in the Indy Racing League."
George underscored the progress the IRL has made in just its second year. "We have successfully introduced new engines and chassis on an unprecedented schedule, and our drivers have thrilled crowds across the country with close, competitive racing. This year's Indianapolis 500 contained all of the elements our fans like: new, competitive and safe equipment running at high speeds with a lot of passing through the field and a finish that had five cars on the same lap. At Texas, we had our cars running three abreast at times, providing great entertainment and racing for the largest crowd ever to see an Indy-style race outside of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Now it is time for us to take this next step, and I know that, under Leo Mehl's leadership, we will accomplish that objective," concluded George.