IRL: Chicagoland Speedway to open in 2001

CHICAGO, Monday, May 8, 2000 - An Indy Racing Northern Light Series event will take place Sept. 2, 2001 at Chicagoland Speedway at Joliet, a state-of-the art 1.5-mile oval under construction, Indy Racing League and track officials...

CHICAGO, Monday, May 8, 2000 - An Indy Racing Northern Light Series event will take place Sept. 2, 2001 at Chicagoland Speedway at Joliet, a state-of-the art 1.5-mile oval under construction, Indy Racing League and track officials announced today.

The new race at Chicagoland Speedway joins the 85th Indianapolis 500 and another new event at Kansas Speedway, also announced today, on the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series schedule. The new date at Chicagoland takes place on Labor Day weekend, creating a new holiday tradition of racing for fans.

Tony George, Indy Racing League founder and Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief executive officer, made the announcement today along with Mike Helton, NASCAR senior vice president and chief operating officer, Indy Racing and NASCAR drivers, and track officials at a press conference at Chicago's Navy Pier. NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division events also will take place at the new facility. Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States, making it one of the most appealing markets for major motorsports.

"This region has a great tradition of open-wheel racing dating back to Meadowdale International and Raceway Park, and we are proud to link the heritage of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 with the racing tradition of Illinois," George said. "Chicago will be the largest market where the Indy Racing Northern Light Series competes, and I expect it will be a great event for our drivers, our fans and our sponsors."

Chicagoland Speedway is scheduled to open in spring 2001. The 75,000-seat facility will be part of one of the most comprehensive motorsports complexes in America, as it is adjacent to Route 66 Raceway, site of an annual NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series event.

"We're thrilled to bring the Indy Racing Northern Light Series to the Chicago area," said Joie Chitwood III, general manager of Chicagoland Speedway. "Our partners identified Chicago as a target market five years ago, and we've been working toward this day ever since.

"We began construction with the hopes of getting a great lineup of events, but there are no guarantees in this business. We hoped that if we built a great facility and assembled a solid leadership team, our chances would be good."

The Indy Racing Northern Light Series is the premier open-wheel, oval-track series in the world, with the world-famous Indianapolis 500 as its cornerstone events. Drivers in the Northern Light Series compete in open-wheel, open-cockpit cars with normally aspirated V8 engines that race at more than 220 mph.

Top drivers in the series include two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr., 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier, 1999 series champion Greg Ray, Scott Goodyear, Robbie Buhl and Scott Sharp. Cheever and Sharp attended the press conference today to help launch the new era of racing in Chicago.

"It's a great track in a great city," Cheever said. "Chicago has the most dedicated, vocal sports fans, and I can't wait to see them turn out by the thousands to cheer on their favorite drivers - hopefully me. And as a team owner in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series, I'm proud to see our series expand our schedule into another major market."

The remainder of the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series schedule will be announced at a later date.

Media Contacts: Ron Green, Indy Racing Public Relations Manager, (317) 484-6425, rgreen@brickyard.com Paul Kelly, Indy Racing Communications Manager, (315) 673-0184, pkelly@brickyard.com World Wide Web: http://www.indyracing.com Fax on Demand: (877) 797-4639

Paul Kelly Communications Manager Indy Racing/Indianapolis Motor Speedway (315) 673-0184 (phone, fax) pkelly@brickyard.com (e-mail)

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About this article
Series IndyCar , NASCAR Cup
Drivers Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Scott Goodyear , Al Unser Sr. , Tony George , Mike Helton , Paul Kelly