KANSAS CITY, Ks. (October 18, 2000) - The most diverse event schedule in the 15-year history of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship, featuring a 2001 calendar of races in three countries run on CART and IRL event weekends, was announced today by Indy Lights President and CEO Roger Bailey. The announcement was made on the grounds of the new Kansas Speedway that will host the first of three races on IRL weekends next year.
The 12-race schedule for the top-level Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) development series features four new venues, including two of the events that will be run on Indy Racing Northern Lights Series weekends.
"The Dayton Indy Lights Championship is, first and foremost, a CART-sanctioned series with a mandate to develop drivers for the FedEx Championship Series," Bailey said. "As we complete our 15th season of competition, however, we have realized that Indy Lights is a viable training ground for drivers bound for all types of auto racing series. By adding IRL events to our core lineup of CART weekends, we are exposing our teams and drivers to an expanded fan base and new business opportunities. The diverse schedule gives our teams the potential to broaden their marketing and sponsorship programs to include several new markets not covered on the CART schedule."
"The year 2001 will be exciting for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series as it expands its schedule and moves into new markets," said Brian Barnhart, Vice President of Operations for the Indy Racing League. "The Indy Racing League will continue to work closely with the track operators to present events with high entertainment value. Packaging Dayton Indy Lights series events with the Indy Racing League should help promoters attract more racing fans to their facilities."
The Dayton Indy Lights Championship has been a headline series on event weekends in the past, but the 2001 season marks the first time since the series debuted in 1986 that support races will be run on both FedEx Championship Series and non-CART race weekends.
"Bridgestone/Firestone and Dayton tire are extremely pleased with the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights schedule," said Dayton Tire Motorsports Manager Joe Barbieri. "It clearly demonstrates the continued growth of the series our company has so strongly supported for a decade now, and also shows that the Dayton Indy Lights championship is an exciting and desired commodity throughout open-wheel racing. Dayton tire is thrilled about the chance to perform on the wide array of tracks we'll be visiting next year, and the opportunity to provide support races to a number of sanctioning bodies. The increased exposure Dayton tires will receive at the new venues on the 2001 schedule makes this announcement all the more gratifying for us."
The Dayton Indy Lights Championship 2001 race schedule features a balanced mix of six road and street course races and six oval events, ranging from the one-mile oval in Milwaukee to the two-mile California Speedway.
The FedEx Championship Series and the Dayton Indy Lights Championship remain the only auto racing series in the world to run races on four different types of circuits: short ovals, street circuits, permanent road courses and superspeedways.
The season begins with two new races within the span of the year's first three events. The calendar kicks off with the inaugural Monterrey Grand Prix road course race in Monterrey, Mexico, March 11.
The Mexico opener is the first of five consecutive CART events where Dayton Indy Lights will serve as the primary support series for the FedEx Championship Series.
The traditional street-circuit stop in Long Beach, Calif., will be run on April 8 and will be followed by the year's first oval track race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, April 29. The Texas race is the first time a CART event weekend will be held on the 1.5-mile oval near Dallas.
Following the Texas race, the series will take what has become a traditional month-long spring break before returning to action on June 3 at The Milwaukee Mile. The historic Wisconsin State Fair Park facility and Laguna Seca Raceway are the only venues on the CART tour that have hosted an Indy Lights race each year the series has been in operation.
The month of June also features Round Five of the series at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Ore., June 24. The 2001 race will mark the 14th consecutive appearance of Indy Lights on the permanent Portland road course.
The first of the three IRL support races will be run at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Ks., July 8. The new Kansas facility is a 1.5-mile oval.
One week after Kansas, Indy Lights will rejoin the CART FedEx Championship Series in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, July 15. That street circuit race will be followed by a return to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Aug. 12 before the final IRL events at Gateway International Raceway, Aug. 26, and the new Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2. Like Kansas Speedway, the Joliet oval is 1.5 miles in length.
A pair of California races will close the season. The Laguna Seca round will be held on the Monterey, Calif. road course, Oct. 14 while the series concludes for the fifth-straight year at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Fontana is the year's only superspeedway race, reminiscent of the 1996 and 1997 Indy Lights schedules that included just one race each season on the high-banked super tracks at Michigan (1996) and California (1997) speedways.
All 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Championship races will be telecast on ESPN2 and distributed internationally via ESPN International. Exact airdates and times will be announced in the near future.