A short video featuring A.J. Foyt.
First on stage was a Starwood representative announcing that they had signed on to a 3-year deal to become the official Hotel & Resorts of INDYCAR. Starwood includes the Westin, W, Sheraton, Four Points and 5 other brands.
After a burst of smoke and two confetti cannon blasts the driver introductions began. In attendance for the presentation were: Conor Daly, J.K. Vernary, Alex Tagliani, Scott Dixon, Justin Wilson, Will Power, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Vitor Meira, J.R. Hildebrand, Charlie Kimball, Graham Rahal, Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ed Carpenter, and Dario Franchitti. Unlike his peers, the 2010 Indianapolis 500 and IZOD IndyCar Series Champion was escorted to the stage from the rear by the Gordon Pipers. Simona De Silvestro, Paul Tracy and several other IndyCar and Firestone Indy Lights drivers were also on hand.
Following the National Anthem, INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard took to the stage.
"I will start off by saying one of the biggest questions I'm asked: Will IndyCar make a profit in 2011? Let me make it very clear, the most important thing that we can do is not take shortcuts," said Bernard "We have to set a foundation that is going to continue this legacy for the next hundred years. That's the most important thing that we can do.Of course we want to make a profit, but the most important is lay down that foundation."
Bernard went on to explain to the teams, drivers, media, sponsors and promoters what he expects, and what he expects to provide each of the groups.
INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations, Brian Barnhart, was the next on stage. Key pieces of news included:
- First 2011 open test March 14-16 at Barber Motorsports Park
- Second and final open test May 9-10 at Kentucky. IndyCar's 5-9 Lights 5-10.
- New Hampshire, Las Vegas, and Iowa will include additional track time on the Thursday after moving in.
- Milwaukee will include an additional practice on Friday.
- Pit selections process will be determined by the qualifications on the previous LIKE event. Ex: If Justin Wilson qualifies on pole at St. Petersburg, he'll have first selection of pits at Barber. If Will Power is on pole at Brazil, he'll have dibs on pit selection at Toronto, the next road/street course event, not at Indy. Indianapolis pit position procedures will remain unchanged.
- 107% rule has been lowered to 105% on all road and street course events.
- Only one set of tires will be able to be used on each segment during the knock-out rounds of non-oval qualifications.
- Double-file restarts will debut at some point in 2011. The date is TBA because the use of the new rule may or may not be used at Indianapolis, the first oval event of the season.
- Restarts will begin on the straightaway rather then turns 3-4
"Another change, for the first practice session, we'll be going back to something we did in 2009. The first practice session will be a 75-minute practice session. The first 45 will be for rookies and cars outside the top 10 in points," said Barnhart "An extra set of tires will be made available to these participants for purchase to their discretion. The final 30 minutes will be for all cars after the first 45 minutes are run for the cars outside the top 10. After the conclusion of the first practice session, the entrants will be required to return tires to Firestone. Those in the top 10 will have to return one set of tires. Those that ran the first 45 minutes will have to return two sets of tires.
2012 IndyCar project manager Tony Cotman was the next on stage. Highlights include:
- Engine capacity reduced from 2.4 to 2.2 liters
- Engine regulations have been published, but for manufacturers only. (At this time)
- The three power levels for speedways, short ovals and road/street circuits will be adapted by different boost levels
- Fuel cell will be 5-6 gallons fewer
- Aero kit information will be made public closer to May
- At least 4 aero kits are expected in 2012.
- From May to October of each year Aero kit manufacturers can commit to providing the pieces the following year
- Manufacturers must commit to at least a 2-year deal
- Expect to have 2 show cars on display at IMS in May
Executive Director of Firestone Indy Lights, Roger Bailey was next up.
"The Barber champion will get a scholarship of $200,000 to take with him or her up to the new USF 2000 series," Bailey said "The champion of the USF 2000 series will take a $350,000 scholarship up to the very well-established and long serving Star Mazda Series. And the Star Mazda champion will take a $500,000 scholarship to the Firestone Indy Lights Series. The Firestone Indy Lights Series will take between $500,000 and $1 million to the IndyCar team of his or her choice.
"In addition to the scholarships that we've just mentioned, we've created an additional scholarship that will welcome the USAC national driving champion into the Firestone Indy Lights Series. This year it will be Bryan Clauson. Bryan will run all of the six oval races, and for the remaining races, I think it will be the five or seven remaining, Conor Daly will take the driving duties for all the road and street courses."
Robby Greene, senior vice president and general manager of IMS Productions followed up. Highlights
- ABC will carry: St. Pete, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New Hampshire, and Las Vegas.
- VERSUS will carry the remaining events and Indianapolis 500 qualifications.
- Merger of Comcast and NBC expected by the end of January
- All Firestone Indy Lights events will be aired on VERSUS. Broadcasts will be on Wednesday fallowing the race at 6pm est
Terry Angstadt, President of the commercial division was next on stage at the Westin, and quickly announced the return of Edmonton to the schedule. The event will return to their previous July date.
Kasey Coler, director of Marketing announced that children 9 and under will be permitted into the garages (with the exception of Texas) and was then followed by Amy Konrath, Denise Abbot and Steve Shunck from the INDYCAR PR department, and then Greg Gruning the vice president of sales spoke.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and CEO then introduced Mark Dill, the vice president of marketing and public relations. Highlights included:
- All 269 living Indianapolis 500 veterans invited back for an autograph session the day before the race
- 'Unique' flyover
- Stage the 'most powerful and mind-boggling stunt ever performed at an auto racing facility'
- ourgreatest33.com, a site to vote on the greatest 33 drivers of all time from a list of 100 nominees organized by experts and media will be launched in March. (I'll post the 33 drivers I nominated in March as well)
- Hope to have 70 of the 74 surviving Indianapolis 500 winning cars on display
- A sweepstakes for a 2011 Indy 500 pace car will be held benefiting the David Foster Foundation, and will kick off on the Jay Leno Show at a date TBA
- Sports Illustrated will produce a commemorative 100th anniversary Indy 500 issue.
- A Spanish-language version of the Indy 500 broadcast will be available on WEDJ in Indianapolis
Month of May highlights include:
May 7 - Emerging Tech Day
Collegiate Alternative Energy Racing (Electric, Solar)
3rd Annual Balloon Festival Glow
May 14 - Opening Day
Classic car show awards competition with awards - Celebration of Automobiles
Featuring 24 manufacturers of 1911 Indy 500
Marmon, Stutz club exhibits
May 15 - Indy 500 Practice
Final Day of Celebration of Automobiles
May 21 - Pole Day Qualifications
Peak Performance Pole Position
Largest collection of historic Pace cars
Pole winners of the past
May 22 - Bump Day Qualifications
Final day of qualifications
Famous 'Last Row' Drivers of the past
May 25 - Community Day
FREE to public
May 26 -Firestone Indy Lights Practice
May 27 - Miller Lite Carb Day
Final Practice for Indianapolis 500
IZOD Performance Pit Stop Competition
Miller Lite Concert
Firestone Freedom 100
May 28 - Day Before the Race
FREE to public
Public Drivers Meeting
Indy 500 Memorabilia Show
May 29 - Race Day
Gates open at 6 am
Start time TBD
Mattel Extravaganza Stunt
Legendary assembly of cars/past drivers