For Immediate Release
IRL SETS TECHNICAL SPECS, MANUFACTURER GUIDELINES; QUALIFYING PROCEDURE CHANGED FOR 1998 IRL SEASON
INDIANAPOLIS, May 16, 1997 -- The Indy Racing League announced today that it has finalized technical specifications and manufacturer participation guidelines for the future and has changed its qualifying procedure for the 1998 IRL season, including the Indianapolis 500.
The announcement was made by Leo Mehl, executive director of the IRL, in the Trackside Conference Room at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Mehl said the technical specifications and supply guidelines will assure both current and prospective suppliers of stable equipment specifications.
"It was impossible to finalize specifications without the cars being on the race track," he said. "Now, with this behind us, we feel these are the proper technical specs. They are written in a manner to insure the race cars will remain competitive for more than one season. Before the new model IRL car is approved, the manufacturers must provide an update kit for the current chassis to make them as competitive as possible with the new ones."
"We've worked closely with all three of our current manufacturers -- Dallara, G Force and Riley & Scott -- and we thank them for their cooperation. We've been extremely pleased with the performance of these cars to date."
The manufacturer guidelines include one introduction date for new cars and two for new engines to join the series. A car manufacturer must file notice seeking approved status to the IRL by April 1, 1998 for the 1999 season. An engine manufacturer seeking approved status must file notice by Sept. 1, 1997 to be effective June 1, 1998, or by April 1, 1998 to be effective Jan. 1, 1999. Like dates apply in 1999 for the 2000 season.
The car and engine manufacturers will be required to have their products available to IRL teams no later than January 1 or June 1 of the initial racing season of intended use (whichever applies).
The so-called "25-8" incentive (because of its breakdown in the Indianapolis 500 field), provided for conditionally guaranteed starting spots in IRL fields for the top 75 percent in IRL entrant points and has been in effect for the 1996 and 1996-97 seasons.
"This program was necessary to provide a strong incentive to participate in the IRL and compete in all the League races," Mehl said. "In this regard, it has been very successful. Everybody understood it was a necessary thing to start off the League. There had to be some incentive for the teams. I met with the owners this morning and they understand it's time to move on from that."
Saturday and Sunday will be the final qualifying days for those seeking starting spots in the 1997 Indianapolis 500 field. In all, 23 cars have qualified to date and 10 spots remain. ...IRL97-14...