IRL: St. Petersburg 2005 announcement

St. Petersburg Race Added to IRL IndyCar Series 2005 Schedule INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2004 -- The Indy Racing League's initiative to enhance its IRL IndyCar& ...

St. Petersburg Race Added to IRL IndyCar Series 2005 Schedule

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2004 -- The Indy Racing League's initiative to enhance its IRL IndyCar Series schedule with the addition of road/street-style events continued today with the addition of St. Petersburg, Fla., to the 2005 schedule.

The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be held on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg on April 3, 2005. It will be the first IndyCar Series street-circuit event, joining new events at the permanent road courses at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

"Today's announcement brings us to a major market that has considerable interest in motorsports, and I'd like to thank Mayor Rick Baker and the City Council for their pursuit of this event on behalf of the people of St. Petersburg," said Tony George, IRL president and CEO. "The addition of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg allows the IRL to achieve two of its goals as they relate to scheduling. We are continuing to enhance our schedule with the addition of road and street-style events, and the St. Petersburg event allows the IRL to compete in another warm-weather market in advance of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race."

The announcement was made during a celebration at St. Petersburg's Bayfront Plaza and featured Rick Baker, the Mayor of the City of St. Petersburg; members of the St. Petersburg City Council; Michael Andretti, co-owner of Andretti Green Racing; Barry Green, who will serve as the event's managing director; IndyCar Series driver Dario Franchitti; and Tom Elliott, executive vice president of auto operations for American Honda Motor Company, Inc.

The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be held on a 14-turn, 1.806-mile temporary course, which incorporates a runway at Albert Whitted Airport and features a stretch along the St. Petersburg waterways.

The event will mark the IndyCar Series' first visit to Florida's west coast. Known as Florida's Sunshine City, St. Petersburg is a true urban resort city, one of the state's top springtime tourist destinations and features 234 miles of shoreline along Tampa Bay, Boca Ciega Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and intracoastal waterways. Ft. DeSoto Park is one of the nation's top-ranked beaches.

"On April 3, 2005, the Indy Racing League drivers will race on a street course for the very first time," Baker said. "We're thrilled that the league's inaugural street-circuit event will take place right here in beautiful downtown St. Petersburg."

Andretti Green Promotions, an affiliate of IndyCar Series team Andretti Green Racing, will serve as race promoter under the direction Green, a former Indy-style race team owner.

"Andretti Green Promotions is thrilled with the opportunity that lies ahead in St. Petersburg," Green said. "It's a terrific venue and has all the elements necessary to create a successful event for the city, the fans, the competitors, a national television audience and the Indy Racing League."

Honda, which claimed its first engine manufacturer's title on Aug. 15, will serve as title sponsor of the event. It marks Honda's second entitlement of an IndyCar Series event, joining the Honda Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

"We're looking forward to bringing the excitement of IndyCar Series racing to the west coast of Florida," Elliott said. "Honda has a long history of supporting open-wheel racing in America and a tradition of sponsoring major sporting events in Florida. The opportunity to combine these two traditions in the St. Petersburg market should provide a thrilling show for Florida's many motorsports fans. We also appreciate the strong support from the City of St. Petersburg and look forward to sponsoring this race for several years to come."

The addition of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg gives the IndyCar Series a 17-race schedule for the 2005 season, its 10th year of competition. The schedule, featuring 14 ovals, two road courses and a temporary street circuit, consists of the most events in any IndyCar Series season.

For the fourth consecutive year, Homestead-Miami Speedway will play host to the season opener, the Toyota Indy 300 scheduled for Sunday, March 6. The season will end with the Toyota Indy 400, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 16 at California Speedway. It will be the first time the 2-mile oval will play host to the IndyCar Series season finale.

The first permanent road course event in IndyCar Series history will take place at an IndyCar Series-modified, 10-turn, 1.77-mile course at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 28. The first race at the historic 3.4-mile, 11-turn long course at Watkins Glen International is scheduled for Sept. 25. The IndyCar Series event will include "the boot," which is part of the track's traditional Grand Prix circuit.

The race at Infineon Raceway will be the first Indy-style race at the facility since Dan Gurney's win in a USAC Indy Car race in 1970, while the race at Watkins Glen occurs on the weekend long associated with the United States Grand Prix at the facility.

The 89th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 29. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will announce its May schedule in the near future.

The Indy Racing League, which in May announced a contract extension through the 2009 season with ABC Sports and ESPN, will announce its complete 2005 television schedule in the immediate future.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Dan Gurney , Barry Green , Tony George