For Immediate Release INDY RACING LEAGUE ADDS ATLANTA TO 1998 SCHEDULE INDIANAPOLIS, August 11, 1997 -- For the first time since 1983, Indianapolis-style cars will return to the site of one of championship racing's fastest events.
For Immediate Release
INDY RACING LEAGUE ADDS ATLANTA TO 1998 SCHEDULE
INDIANAPOLIS, August 11, 1997 -- For the first time since 1983, Indianapolis-style cars will return to the site of one of championship racing's fastest events. Atlanta Motor Speedway will join the 1998 Indy Racing League schedule, it was announced today at a news conference.
The announcement of the Atlanta 500 Classic on Saturday, Aug. 29, 1998, was made by Bruton Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., and League founder Tony George. The race will have a prize posting package in excess of $1 million.
Atlanta becomes the third 1.5-mile Speedway Motorsports oval to host an IRL race, following 500k events in June at Texas and last month at Charlotte.
Ten Indy-type races were held at Atlanta since 1965, but none since Gordon Johncock won the 1983 season opener. Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears won five of the Atlanta races, including a 150-miler on Sept. 30, 1979 at an average speed of 182.094 miles an hour, the fastest championship race in history at the time. The mark stood for four years. Johnny Rutherford, now the IRL's pace-car driver, won three of the Atlanta races and a record four poles.
"We are pleased to bring the cars that race in the Indianapolis 500 back to Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1998," George said. "Our successes at Texas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway demonstrated growing interest in open-wheel racing and I believe that will be demonstrated once again when we race at Atlanta next year."
The Atlanta race will be a "home game" for IRL drivers Robbie Groff and Jimmy Kite. Groff now resides in Atlanta and Kite, who led his first IRL race at Charlotte in only his second League start, grew up in Stockbridge, Ga.
"I've gone to every stock car race at Atlanta," said Kite. "When I first heard that the IRL might be going to Atlanta, it was like a dream come true -- actually I was afraid that the IRL would run there this year (1996-97 season) and I would miss it."
"We're very pleased to be bringing the Indy Racing League to Atlanta Motor Speedway," Smith said. "We've had tremendously exciting IRL races this year at our company's tracks in Texas and Charlotte and we think the Atlanta 500 Classic will be a truly great event."
Media Contacts: Mai Lindstrom, IMS/IRL Public Relations Director, 317/484-6780 Tony Troiano, IRL Public Relations Manager, 317/484-6458 Lisa Sommers, IMS Public Relations Manager, 317/484-6780
Website Information: www.indyracingleague.com