IPS: IRL: 2003 Championship celebration location announced

IRL Championship Celebration to take place at Walt Disney World INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, July 4, 2003 -- The stars of the IRL IndyCar Series and Infiniti Pro Series will travel to Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort on Oct. 25, 2003 for the annual...

IRL Championship Celebration to take place at Walt Disney World

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, July 4, 2003 -- The stars of the IRL IndyCar Series and Infiniti Pro Series will travel to Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort on Oct. 25, 2003 for the annual Indy Racing League Championship Celebration, league officials announced July 4.

The invitation-only event, themed "Magical Moments of the Indy Racing League," will take place in Epcot's World ShowPlace, the largest dedicated group facility ever created inside a theme park.

"Walt Disney World is a unique venue in which our teams and sponsors can relax and celebrate the 2003 season," said Tony George, Indy Racing League president and CEO. "Specifically, Epcot World ShowPlace will provide the setting for a magical evening.

"Everyone that travels with the league deserves time at the end of the season to get away from work, enjoy great company and reflect on the season. Traveling to different destinations each year to honor our champion is a unique way to celebrate the season. I have no doubt that Orlando will make for one of the more memorable stops for the celebration."

Orlando, Fla., is the fourth city the Indy Racing League Championship Celebration has visited this millennium. In 2000, the champion was crowned at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis. The following year the celebration took place at The Speedway Club in Fort Worth, Texas, while last year the event was staged at the House of Blues in Chicago.

From 1997-99, the awards ceremony took place in Indianapolis, home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League corporate office.

"Once the final checkered flag is waved on another exciting Indy Racing League season, Walt Disney World Resort will provide an ideal location for the IRL to honor its top drivers during the Championship Celebration event," said Phil Lengyel, vice president of Alliance Development for Walt Disney World Resort. "We look forward to welcoming the best open-wheel drivers and their teams back to Walt Disney World to celebrate the IRL season and to enjoy our latest, most thrilling attraction, Mission: SPACE at Epcot."

Drivers, teams and sponsors will experience a social atmosphere during the awards ceremony, which will be highlighted by the presentation of the IndyCar Series Championship Cup and $1-million bonus to the IndyCar Series championship-winning team and driver. Afterward, guests will be treated to a surprise, Disney-style finale.

The celebration will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis, with air time and date to be announced later.

World ShowPlace

World ShowPlace is a 40,000-square-foot facility located within Epcot World Showcase. World ShowPlace is equipped to accommodate 3,800 people for receptions or more than 2,400 at seated banquets. The pavilion features an on-site banquet kitchen and a separate backstage entrance with a private guest arrival area. With ceiling heights measuring up to 44 feet, World ShowPlace can accommodate a spectacular array of themed decor and entertainment.

Epcot World Showcase

Epcot, the Disney discovery park, is 300 acres of attractions, shows, interactive presentations, dining, shopping and architectural wonders. Epcot, the Walt Disney World celebration of human achievement and discovery, comprises two unique worlds: Future World and World Showcase.

World Showcase, home of the World ShowPlace, is a theme park of multi-cultural enchantment, featuring marketplaces bustling with international flavor. A dazzling display of countries transports guests through the magical worlds of 11 nations situated along a 1.3-mile promenade that encircles the 40-acre World Showcase Lagoon. Countries represented are: Mexico, China, the United States, Germany, Italy, Japan, France, Canada, the United Kingdom, Morocco and Norway.

What drivers are saying:

Sam Hornish Jr. (2001 and 2002 IndyCar Series champion): "I think Disney World is pretty cool. It is neat to go somewhere different. The IRL tries to have something different every year so a champion has a special memory. Also if you win twice you have something different instead of the same place both years. The celebration is a little bit of a tribute to the champion. It is focused on the champion, so it is your night."

A.J. Foyt IV (2002 Infiniti Pro Series champion): "I haven't been to Disney World since I was a little kid. It will be good to go back there and see how much it has changed. The Championship Celebration is a cool way to end the season, especially for the champion. I think Disney World has a lot to offer, so it should be a fun finale for 2003."

Buddy Lazier (2000 IndyCar Series champion): "I think it will be a great event, and I'm excited about the celebration at Walt Disney World. The IndyCar Series has always been well received in Orlando, and I suspect there will be a fabulous victory celebration. It will be a great time for the racing community as well as my family. The facility is like a gigantic playground, and there will be something for all ages. When I won in 2000, we had the banquet in Indianapolis, and it was a wonderful event. It was a spectacular and great evening. The whole night was indescribable, and something I look back on very fondly. I'm looking forward to returning to center stage again, in championship form."

Greg Ray (1999 IndyCar Series champion): "To hold our IRL Championship Celebration at Disney should turn it into a 'magical' experience. I have been fortunate enough to be included in the annual parade and have enjoyed each and every visit there. After winning the 1999 IndyCar Series championship, it was great to be able to celebrate with my team, all the other teams attending and sharing that night with everyone watching. I was honored to be the champion and look forward to the future with the possibility of repeating that honor."

Kenny Brack (1998 IndyCar Series champion): "At the banquet, you get to see everyone on the series away from the track, and you get to talk to a lot of friends and other teams, too. It's just a more relaxed feeling that night. It should be fun going to Disney World again. My last race there (1998) wasn't very fun. So I hope to have more fun this time. It is always exciting and gratifying to win a championship. Winning with A.J. (Foyt) was fun, too. He has won a lot of races and championships during his career, but he seemed very happy for me and our team (in 1998)."

Scott Sharp (1996 IndyCar Series co-champion): "I applaud the IRL for moving the end-of-year celebrations to Disney World. It's a top destination on almost everyone's list, offers so much to do, and almost always has great weather. Picking a location that is universally accepted is a great move. The presentation, formality and presence of the IRL and Indy 500 banquets have greatly changed since I won the championship. It has become a great evening that offers much more than just racing accolades; the entertainment, food and social aspect of the banquet are also terrific."


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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Greg Ray , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , A.J. Foyt IV , Kenny Brack , Tony George , Sam Hornish Jr.