IPS: Series gains new sponsor

The Indy Racing League's Infiniti Pro Series has a new name, as John Menard's Menards Home Improvement stores have come on board as the co-title sponsor of the ladder program. The 12-race 2004 season will now be known as the IRL Menards...

The Indy Racing League's Infiniti Pro Series has a new name, as John Menard's Menards Home Improvement stores have come on board as the co-title sponsor of the ladder program.

The 12-race 2004 season will now be known as the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series, according to Ken Ungar, the Indy Racing League's senior vice president of business affairs.

Six of the 12 100-mile sprint races will be held on the same day as the League's premier IndyCar Series events, Ungar revealed and, once again, ESPN2 will televise all 12 races, most likely by tape delay, as schedules have not yet been set by the network.

There will be two changes to the schedule. A race will be held at the historic Milwaukee Mile for the first time in 2004 on July 25th. The race held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be conducted on Bump Day, "to best showcase the Infiniti Pro Series talent pool on one of the most exciting days in sport," Ungar said. Purses are expected to remain at the $100,000 level.

Founder and godfather of the Infiniti Pro Series Roger Bailey is "delighted that John Menard and his group have decided to come on board. This is an American series to promote American style racing and we will continue to welcome international talent that wishes to run with us."

Chris Sumner of Menard Engineering Ltd. (MEL) was on hand to represent John Menard's interests in making the announcement and revealed that, with this program, MEL will be sole engine builder for the IPS. "We see a lot of marketing opportunities with this branding and we are, as one of the founding teams in the IRL, proud to help mold future stars for IndyCar Series competition."

The Infiniti Pro Series, now in its 18th month of competition has been looking to build engines in the United States since it began. Up to now, all Infiniti engines have been produced in the United Kingdom but beginning next year all will be built just a stone's throw from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, off 38th Street, according to Bailey. "This will be a major improvement for us in terms of turnaround time," Bailey declared.

The Infiniti Pro Series' 12 annual races are intended to promote new talent to the IndyCar Series and enable young drivers to get the expertise they need to move to that pinnacle of open wheel racing and to eventually compete in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Roger Bailey