Infineon Raceway to add Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series to IRL Weekend in 2006 SONOMA, Calif. (August 27, 2005) -- Infineon Raceway and Grand American Road Racing Association officials announced today that the highly-competitive Rolex ...
Infineon Raceway to add Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series to IRL Weekend in 2006
SONOMA, Calif. (August 27, 2005) -- Infineon Raceway and Grand American Road Racing Association officials announced today that the highly-competitive Rolex Sports Car Series will tackle the Sonoma Valley road course for the first time next summer, combining with the IRL IndyCar® Series to offer Northern California fans an unparalleled weekend of road-racing action.
Raceway and IRL officials also confirmed that the IndyCar® Series will return to the Sonoma County road course next summer, Aug. 25-27, 2006.
The Rolex Series, which includes classes for Daytona Prototypes and production-based GT sports cars, will come to Infineon Raceway for the first time since its inception in 2000 and will be the featured event on Saturday of the 2006 weekend.
"Since renovating this facility, it has been our mission to offer fans in Northern California the widest possible variety of motor racing action," said Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway. "The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series delivers some of the most consistently competitive racing of any series on any kind of track and the combination of Rolex Sports Cars and IndyCars® next summer is going to make for a dream weekend at this raceway."
The Rolex Series is headlined by the Daytona Prototype category that in only its third-year of competition has led the growth in Grand American Road Racing's popularity.
The class features exotic, thoroughbred racecars that reach top speeds in excess of 185 mph and popular drivers like Californians Scott Pruett (Loomis), Memo Gidley (Novato) and second-generation star Alex Gurney (Los Angeles), in addition to Christian Fittipaldi, Max Angelelli, Andy Wallace, Stefan Johansson, Wayne Taylor, Max Papis, Butch Leitzinger, Milka Duno, Elliott Forbes-Robinson and dozens more. Pruett and Papis are the reigning Daytona Prototype co-champions.
The GT class makes up the other half of the Rolex Series lineup and features race-prepared versions of today's popular international and American-made high-performance sports cars and coupes such as the BMW M3, Porsche GT3 and the Pontiac GTO. Several top Californians also compete in GT including Justin Marks, Joey Hand and reigning GT champion Bill Auberlen. Rolex Series events typically feature well in excess of 40 entries -- Daytona Prototype and GT combined -- creating competitive on-track action and the traditional "race within a race" sports car format.
"We're obviously thrilled to add another world-class road course in Infineon Raceway to our 2006 Rolex Series calendar," Grand American President Roger Edmondson said. "Together with events at California Speedway and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the addition of Infineon Raceway creates a California 'Triple Crown' of sorts and allows us to reach even more sports car fans on the West Coast. We expect that our event will provide race fans in the Sonoma Valley with the hotly-contested brand of sports car racing they so richly deserve."
This weekend's Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix marks the first event on a permanent road course in the 10-year history of the IRL.
"The fans and media in the Northern California region have embraced the IndyCar® Series," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president of business affairs for the IRL. "There has been an incredible amount of interest about the IndyCar® Series event at Infineon Raceway ever since we made the schedule announcement last year. We're looking forward to a great weekend, and are very excited about returning to Sonoma next year. Moving forward, we hope this race will become a premier event on the IndyCar® Series schedule."
The Rolex Series and IRL currently race together at Homestead-Miami Speedway and will also be part of a doubleheader weekend next month at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) where the IRL will make its debut.
This weekend, the Rolex Series is in action at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the EMCO Gears Classic. While this weekend in 2006 will see the Rolex Series on the West Coast, Grand American and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course officials remain committed to working together and the series will return to the facility on another weekend next year.
Rolex Series Competitors Comment on Addition of Infineon Raceway to 2006 Schedule
SCOTT PRUETT, Driver, No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley: "In a word-- awesome. I couldn't think of a better racetrack. It's just an awesome venue. Infineon Raceway is my home track having grown up in California, and I've raced everything with four wheels on it there. It's in a great part of the country in Napa Valley, and there are so many cool things to do around the venue. Adding Sonoma to our schedule only furthers the growth the Rolex Series is experiencing, and I can't wait to get back there again."
STEFAN JOHANSSON, Driver, No. 2 New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley: "I like the fact that the series is taking on more permanent road courses. Infineon is a great circuit located in an ideal part of the country. The fact that we can combine forces once again with the IndyCar Series will make for a very entertaining weekend for West Coast racing enthusiasts. There's just so much going on in that area with wineries and the whole Napa Valley, and I recently moved to California so it's another race for us in my back yard."
KEVIN BUCKLER, Owner, TRG: "That is a huge deal. That is one of the most demanding road circuits in all of racing. It's perfect for our series. The Northern California market is just a top-notch sports car market. The demographics of the area are second to none, especially when it comes to sports car enthusiasts. Everybody loves going to Northern California. It's a fun time for all, great wine tasting, the coast, it's perfect. It's just a great venue. It's my home course, and it's the most physically-demanding road course, period. Having cars racing nose-to-tail there will be like nothing we've ever seen."
MEMO GIDLEY, Driver, No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve/Commercial Defeasance Finlay Motorsports BMW Riley: "This is great news. Infineon Raceway is my home track. I live less than 10 minutes away. It's a great opportunity for my family and friends who don't normally get to see me race to come to the track. I've raced a lot of go-karts in the area, and it's a chance for them to see me racing in something other than that. It's also nice to sleep in your own bed."
MIKE BORKOWSKI, Driver, No. 6 Mears Motor Coach/Michael Shank Racing Pontiac Riley: "That is going to be a great track for us to race on," said Borkowski. "I have a lot of laps there from when I raced with Tom Gloy and their shop was right there, so I am looking forward to going through the esses in a Daytona Prototype. It's also an amazing part of the country, so it will be a great addition to the schedule."