ESPN2 To Air All Menards Infiniti Pro Series Races in 2005
Futaba Freedom 100 will be broadcast live to 83 million homes
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2004 -- Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series races will air on ESPN2 for the fourth consecutive season in 2005, including live coverage of the Futaba Freedom 100 from Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 27.
The series-high, 14-race schedule will be available to more than 83.5 million homes in the United States on a network that features more than 4,800 hours of live and/or original sports programming each year, including coverage of major league baseball, and college football and basketball.
The broadcast schedule features two substantial improvements over past years. First, a majority of the races will be aired during a consistent time slot, and, second, broadcasts of the three road-course races and one street-course event will be expanded from 30 minutes to one hour.
"We're quite pleased with the television package for 2005," said Roger Bailey, executive director of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. "We continue to make great strides regarding the strength of the schedule and the quality of the programming.
"Our fans, participants and sponsors will all continue to reap the benefits of our races being on one of the top sports networks in the United States."
In addition to the live broadcast of the Futaba Freedom 100, 10 races will air on Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET. Two additional races will air in different time slots on Thursday afternoons, and one race will air on a Friday afternoon.
The Futaba Freedom 100 will feature a two-hour broadcast at 2 p.m. EDT. The remaining nine oval races will be packaged into 30-minute shows, while the road- and street-course events will be one-hour shows.
Formed in July 2002, the Menards Infiniti Pro Series is an essential stepping stone for drivers and teams striving to reach the pinnacle of open-wheel racing in America, the IRL IndyCar® Series. Two previous champions, A.J. Foyt IV (2002) and Mark Taylor (2003), along with 2002 Futaba Freedom 100 winner Ed Carpenter, are full-time drivers in the IndyCar Series.
Infiniti Q45 engines power Dallara Automobili chassis built for the series, with Firestone Firehawk tires used exclusively on all cars. The V8 engines produce approximately 450 horsepower for the single-seat winged chassis, providing an ideal training ground for the 600-horsepower, single-seat winged cars of the IndyCar Series.
The 2005 television schedule is an extension of the wide-ranging multimedia agreement announced by the IRL, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ABC Sports and ESPN in May, and continues a relationship that began when the IRL debuted in 1996. ESPN has televised Indianapolis 500 qualifying since 1987, and ESPN2 joined the coverage in 1996. ABC Sports has televised the Indianapolis 500 since 1965, including live coverage since 1986.
The agreement includes comprehensive coverage of the IndyCar Series, the Menards Infiniti Pro Series as well as ancillary programming support, extensive coverage of the Indianapolis 500, and the distribution rights for IRL-related programming and content on numerous ESPN outlets, including ESPN Classic, ESPN International and ESPN.com.
ESPN also holds rights to emerging technologies such as pay-per-view, video-on-demand, interactive TV, broadband, video game development and wireless applications. ESPN will hold rights for high definition distribution on ESPN HD and Spanish-language telecasts on ESPN Deportes.
ESPN International networks retain worldwide rights to televise race coverage to 149 countries and territories.
ESPN International will continue as the global syndication representative. Current syndication agreements are in place with broadcasters in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, with pan-regional highlights available on Eurosport, the most widely-distributed sports network in Europe.
<pre> 2005 IRL MENARDS INFINITI PRO SERIES TELEVSION SCHEDULE ON ESPN2
Race Date Broadcast Date & Time (ET) Track March 6 Thurs., March 17, 4 p.m. Homestead-Miami Speedway March 19 Thurs., March 24, 3 p.m. Phoenix International Raceway April 3 Fri., April 8, 3 p.m.* St. Petersburg May 27 Fri., May 27, 2 p.m. (LIVE) Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Oval) June 10 Thurs., June 16, 3 p.m. Texas Motor Speedway USGP weekend Thurs., June 30, 3 p.m.* Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road course) July 16 Thurs., July 21, 3 p.m. Nashville Superspeedway July 24 Thurs., July 28, 3 p.m. The Milwaukee Mile Aug. 13 Thurs., Aug. 18, 5 p.m. Kentucky Speedway Aug. 21 Thurs., Aug. 25, 3 p.m. Pikes Peak International Raceway Aug. 28 Thurs., Sept. 1, 3 p.m.* Infineon Raceway Sept. 11 Thurs., Sept. 15, 3 p.m. Chicagoland Speedway Sept. 25 Thurs., Sept. 29, 3 p.m.* Watkins Glen International Oct. 16 Thurs., Oct. 20, 3 p.m. California Speedway
* Denotes one-hour broadcast
Dates and times subject to change