The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced details today of last weeks unveiling of the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, set to air on ABC.
"The Grand Prix of Indianapolis is all about elevating the Month of May, the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series with more thrilling content for our loyal supporters and new fans," said Hulman & Company CEO, Mark Miles. "This will be a very different event than the '500' and will be one of three major weekends of excitement at IMS in May, all leading into the 98th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25."
The month will kick off FREE to the public Thursday, May 8 with road course practice for the IndyCar Series, Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, and USF2000 series. The cars will return Friday for IndyCar qualifying and Mazda Road to Indy events with $20 general admission. Reserved tickets for Saturday's IndyCar race range from $40 to $75 & $25 general admission and go on sale October 14th.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has already begun a $5-million reconfiguration project altering the course. May's events will be ran clockwise on a re-vamped 14-turn 2.434-mile course with at least 3 passing zones -- Turn 1, 7 and 12.
Changes include nearly wiping out the old F-1 Turns 5,6 & 7 replacing them with a small chicane at the exit of Turn 4 before hitting a nearly 2,500 foot straightaway down Hulman Boulevard. In addition, the Turn 7, 8, 9 complex behind the IMS Museum will also be slightly adjusted to 'create more speed and passing'. The cars will then enter the oval Turn 2 and continue down the short chute before a 90-degree right turn entering the Moto-GP section of the course with the another passing opportunity.
"Our approach is to create an affordable, fun, family-friendly opening event to kick off the excitement for the entire Month of May," Miles said. "The most expensive ticket for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis is less than half the price of the costliest seat for the Indianapolis 500. Fans will get the best views possible of the exciting, side-by-side action created during this historic event on our new circuit."
IMS President Doug Boles addressed the track changes during the press conference.
"The drivers in the IndyCar Series spent an awful lot of time with Derrick Walker and I as we thought through these corners. We're excited about what we think we've delivered. One of the questions that we heard earlier today is how is this different from Formula One. Formula One didn't encourage passing. Formula One, when the track was here had one passing zone, and that was the Turn 1 that you see behind me. We've actually made it a little bit better. We think it's going to be stronger.
Turn 7 is going to be much better than where we were with Formula One because the run up as you go through the 5-6 chicane is an awful lot longer, it's about 2,500 feet from the moment you come out on Hulman, until you make that corner at Turn 7, and then the corner at Turn 12 is going to offer another unique opportunity to pass, but what it's going to do for the Indianapolis 500 fan who loves to sit in Turn 1 for the first time ever, they're going to get to experience what it looks like for a car to run on a road course here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."In addition to the track improvements, spectator mounds and grandstands will also be expanded and adjusted.