Verizon IndyCar Series to Race at Historic Road America in 2016
INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 8, 2015) – INDYCAR announced today that Road America, the historic permanent road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis., will make its return to the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule in 2016. The event is set for June 24-26 on the 14-turn, 4.048-mile circuit that hosted 25 Indy car races from 1982-2007.
Road America, established in 1955, has featured some of the greatest names in Indy car racing. Legendary drivers Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi each won three times at Road America. Jacques Villeneuve and Paul Tracy were two-time winners on the high-speed course located in the Kettle Moraine area of east-central Wisconsin.
“We know how revered Road America is by our drivers, teams and fans and we’re confident it will be a great event on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series calendar,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We’re thankful to (Road America president and general manager) George Bruggenthies and his staff for their collaboration in bringing INDYCAR back to one of the most iconic road courses in North America. This event, along with a new street race in Boston, are integral additions for 2016 as our efforts to finalize the entire schedule continue to progress.”
Derrick Walker, INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations, fielded entries at most of the past Road America races as a team owner or manager. Walker visited the track several times during negotiations for the 2016 event and is confident Road America will bring out the best in the present-day Indy cars.
“It’s truly great news that open-wheel racing will be back at Road America,” Walker said. “It’s a classic road course: long, with almost every type of challenging corner. The track is designed to make full use of the natural terrain, which makes for great spectator locations to see the Verizon IndyCar Series at its best. In addition, our cars at Road America with aero kits will showcase some very exciting racing for our fans.”
In addition to the Verizon IndyCar Series, all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy will compete on race weekend. Road America officials have been overwhelmed with fan requests for Indy car racing to return to the venerable track, and worked hard with INDYCAR to make it happen.
“We listened to the fans and the local community, and after careful negotiations struck a deal to bring back one of the greatest forms of open-wheel racing ever to grace our beautiful 4-mile road course,” said Bruggenthies. “We have wanted to bring INDYCAR back for quite some time and we knew what it would take to make it work for everyone involved.”
Ten current Verizon IndyCar Series drivers have raced on the circuit before, with Sebastien Bourdais winning the last Indy car race there in 2007 under Champ Car sanction.
“I am really excited to see Road America back on the 2016 Indy car schedule,” said Bourdais, a four-time Indy car champion who currently drives for KVSH Racing. “This place allows our cars to stretch their legs fully and show what the Verizon IndyCar Series is all about. It is our duty toward road racing to continue this tradition and I could not be happier that a new deal got penciled. For me, it is the best racetrack in North America and I have some great memories there, including the win in 2007, and I am looking forward to coming back.”
Hector Rebqaue won the first Indy car race at Road America in 1982. Dario Franchitti holds the track record with a lap of 1 minute, 39.866 seconds (145.924 mph) set in qualifying for the 2000 race.
“The response from our fans has been tremendous,” Bruggenthies added, “and as part of showing our appreciation to them, we are offering a special four-day ticket package that includes garage access, free parking and an event program.”
Road America is the seventh race date to be confirmed on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. Other announced race dates are: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 11-13; Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 15-17; Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, May 12-14; 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, May 29; Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, June 3-5; and Grand Prix of Boston, Sept. 2-4.
What they’re saying about Indy cars returning to Road America:
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (Driver, KVSH Racing): “I am really excited to see Road America back on the 2016 Indy car schedule. This place allows our cars to stretch their legs fully and show what the Verizon IndyCar Series is all about. It is our duty toward road racing to continue this tradition and I could not be happier that a new deal got penciled. For me, it is the best racetrack in North America and I have some great memories there, including the win in 2007, and I am looking forward to coming back.”
SCOTT DIXON (Driver, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams): “Road America is one of the classic tracks in North America. Its long and challenging layout is built for speed and the Indy cars this year have been shattering a lot of track records with the new aero kits. I can’t wait to get back and am glad INDYCAR is expanding the schedule and adding races to the calendar.”
MIKE HULL (Managing Director, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams): “INDYCAR’s return to Road America is terrific for the fans, Road America and INDYCAR. Road America is an amazing natural terrain and historic four-mile track. It’s a true driver’s racetrack with a large engineering challenge to match the setup to the diversity of very high speed, combined with tight cornering forces. INDYCAR’s innovation and technology will be showcased fully. This is an exciting and genuinely positive partnership announcement.”
TONY KANAAN (Driver, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams): “I’m extremely happy to know that Road America will be back on our schedule. It’s one of my favorite road courses in the U.S. – a long, technical and beautiful track. I had a couple of top-five finishes there back in the day, so I’d be happy to race there again and make it to the podium.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (Driver, Team Penske): “I have said several times that Road America is the one track in this country that needs to be added to the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule immediately. Elkhart Lake is a racing town. The people there love what we do and they really supported the series when we ran there in the past. It is exciting to see the schedule fill out a bit for 2016. This has been a great year for our series and I am confident that the 2016 season will be as well.”
ROGER PENSKE (Owner, Team Penske): “Road America will be a terrific addition to the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. We raced there for many years through the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s, and enjoyed great support from the people of Elkhart Lake. The expansion of the schedule is important to building on the successes and growth we have seen in 2015. Road America is a world-class facility that will allow our cars to display the speed and excitement that has come to define this series.”
WILL POWER (Driver, Team Penske): “I am really looking forward to going back to Road America. It’s a phenomenal racetrack, especially for the cars in the Verizon IndyCar Series with all of the downforce we have now. I think it will create really good racing because the draft effect is pretty big. Road America is just one of those traditional tracks that has been around for years and it has so much history with our cars. I can’t say enough how happy I am that it will be back on the schedule in 2016.”
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