CHAMPCAR/CART: 2003 schedule notes

CART announced their 2003 race schedule today, featuring 20 races and a few changes from 2002. Already known was the departure of the Motegi, Japan round from the schedule, an event that has been held in late April or early May. With the Spring...

CART announced their 2003 race schedule today, featuring 20 races and a few changes from 2002. Already known was the departure of the Motegi, Japan round from the schedule, an event that has been held in late April or early May. With the Spring dates open, CART elected to move their European swing from September in hopes of finding a little better weather with more daylight hours on the new dates.

The new "Europe" date, still listed without a specific track, will be run on April 27 and will be at a circuit in Southern Europe which will be announced at a later time. The other date marked "tentative" on the schedule released today is the Chicago race. CART officials are still attempting to move that event to a street circuit, but are also working to hold on to the Chicago Motor Speedway oval as a backup site. That race will be May 18th.

The addition of the St. Petersburg race to start the season in February (23rd) and the second running of the Miami race (9/28) was only the start of the Florida news to be announced today. CART Spring Training will change coasts, as historic Sebring Raceway will be the new home for the combination of a test day and a season rollout for fans and media. It will be held in the heart of Florida Speedweeks, starting the day after the traditional opener for the US racing season, the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

In other news, CART President and CEO Chris Pook admitted that work was progressing on plans to hold the Cleveland race at Burke Lakefront Airport at night! Pook said: "We would have a very high interesting running at Cleveland under the lights on the night of the July 4th weekend, tying in a full concert and fireworks, and ice cream and apple pie and all those things that take place over that period of time."

Pook later added: "We have had some very, very enthusiastic meetings with the mayor and key members of her staff and with the key members of the business community. That's where we are headed here. It's not a done situation, but we think that these racing cars would be quite remarkable under that scenario at night."

A key feature of the new schedule is an attempt to minimize the travel difficulties caused by some tightly-packed stretches of three and four weeks in a row. The schedule now has no more than three races in any month.

One race is in February (St. Petersburg), one in March (Monterrey, Mexico), two in April (Long Beach and the Europe/TBA race), two in May (Corby, England and Chicago), three in June (Milwaukee, Laguna Seca, and Portland), three in July (Cleveland, Toronto, and Vancouver), three in August (Mid-Ohio, Elkhart Lake, and Denver), two in September (Montreal and Miami), two in October (Mexico City and Surfers Paradise, Australia) and the final race on November 2 at California Speedway.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Chris Pook