IPS: 2005 calendar mixes ovals with road, street circuits

The Indy Racing League's Menards Infiniti Pro Series has finalized its 2005 schedule, which expands to a series-high 14-event campaign next year, adding three road courses and one street race.

Rolando Quintanilla and Leonardo Maia.
Photo by Earl Ma.
The Pro series will make a new precedent in 2005, becoming the sole series to race twice in the same season at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in support of both the IndyCar Series and FIA Formula One.

The Menards Infiniti Pro Series 2005 schedule begins, for the second straight season at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval on March 6th, the same date allocated to the IndyCar Series on the south Florida oval and will run with its larger brethren on March 19th at Phoenix International Raceway's 1-mile oval, a Saturday event for both series.

The Pro series then ventures to the west coast of Florida to race in the St. Petersburg Grand Prix on April 3rd, but takes a long hiatus until Carburetion Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, when the Menards-sponsored ladder series holds the third annual Futaba Freedom 100 on the 2.5-mile historic Brickyard oval.

A June 10th date at Texas Motor Speedway places the Menards Pro Series up on the 1.5-mile banked oval and the next June 2005 date - still to be confirmed by the FIA - will showcase the Pro series Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone package in conjunction with the United States Grand Prix.

Next up for Pro series competitors is a July 16th race date on Nashville Superspeedway's 1.33-mile oval. The series visits the historic Milwaukee Mile on July 24th and then hits Kentucky Speedway (1.5-mile tri-oval) on August 13th.

One week later, on August 21st the Pro series ventures to the Pikes Peak International Raceway mile oval, traveling from there to Infineon Raceway Sears Point for its first permanent road course competition on August 28th.

Performing as the opening act September 11th on Chicagoland Speedway's 1.5- mile oval, the Menards Infiniti Pro Series heads to the historic New York Finger Lakes district to meet the challenge of Watkins Glen International on September 25th and ends the season on October 16th at the 2-mile California Speedway along with the IndyCar Series.

Infiniti Pro Series director Roger Bailey.
Photo by Earl Ma.
"This is an historic moment for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series," declared Roger Bailey, executive director. "By lengthening the schedule and adding road races, we will increase our ability to attract the top young driving talent from around the United States and the world. To be able to showcase the series, our drivers, teams and sponsors twice at Indianapolis in the same year is extraordinary," Bailey continued.

The Menards Infiniti Pro Series first hit the oval tracks in July of 2002 at Kansas Speedway, a venue not included in the 2005 schedule. The spec Pro series uses Dallara chassis, Infiniti Q45 engines and Firestone Firehawk tires on all cars.

The Infiniti V8 engines produce about 450 horsepower, providing training ground for the 600 horsepower Indy cars to which Pro series drivers aspire. Of the 14 dates on the Pro series calendar, 10 share race dates with the IndyCar Series.

All Menards Infiniti Pro Series races air on ESPN2 and are distributed worldwide through ESPN International. Series champions include A.J. Foyt IV (2002 Inaugural season), Mark Taylor in 2003 and, most likely Thiago Medeiros will clinch at California Speedway this weekend.