The return of two traditional venues and the addition of an exciting new downtown event are highlights of the 17-race 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule announced Sept. 10.
Series officials unveiled the 2011 event lineup at the historic Milwaukee Mile, which will return to the schedule next June. New Hampshire Motor Speedway also is back, and the inaugural street race in Baltimore joins the schedule.
In its continuing effort to offer competitors the most diverse and challenging championship in motorsports, the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule features eight oval races and nine road/street events.
Highlights of the 2011 schedule:
• The season opener will be contested March 27 on the temporary street course in St. Petersburg, Fla., as the series opens in the U.S. for the first time since 2009.
• The street course in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 1 will play host to the first international event of the season and serve as the lead-in race for the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500.
• The Indianapolis 500 will be contested May 29, preceded by two weeks of practice and qualifications. Pole Day is May 21. The event will mark the 100th anniversary of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" and will include many special Centennial Era activities for fans and media.
• Texas Motor Speedway will feature dual races under the lights June 11, allowing for a weekend off following the Indianapolis 500.
•After a one-year absence, the historic Milwaukee Mile will rejoin the schedule June 19, featuring a new event promoter.
•Iowa Speedway will showcase its first IZOD IndyCar Series night race June 25.
•The IZOD IndyCar Series races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon after a 13-year hiatus on Aug. 14. New Hampshire played host to annual Indy-style events from 1992-98.
•The inaugural race in Baltimore, which incorporates the Inner Harbor, will be on a series-designed street circuit Sept. 4.
• The 12th IZOD IndyCar Series race at Kentucky Speedway shifts from Labor Day weekend to Oct. 2.
• The season finale race, which will take place on an oval, will be announced at a later date.
"It was important that the IZOD IndyCar Series continue to strike a balance between ovals and non-ovals to maintain our claim to the most diverse racing schedule in the world," said Randy Bernard, chief executive officer, IZOD IndyCar Series. "We want to have the best drivers in the world, and it's important that our schedule truly challenges the best through short ovals, speedways, temporary circuits and road courses."
Auto racing at The Milwaukee Mile debuted Sept. 11, 1903, when William Jones of Chicago won a five-lap speed contest. It has played host to auto racing every year since. The Milwaukee Mile first staged Indy car races in 1933.
"As tomorrow marks the 107th anniversary of the first race ever held at The Milwaukee Mile, it is only appropriate that we hold our 2011 schedule unveiling at this facility today," Bernard said. "We all appreciate the heritage and legacy of this sport while looking at all the new opportunities we have to grow.
"IndyCar is entering a new and exciting era. Fortunately, this brings opportunities with new venues and promoters that are fully aligned with our strategy moving forward. We are committed to working with our partners and listening to our fans about what they want as we do what is in the best interest of the sport.
"The Milwaukee Mile is an important track in the heritage and legacy of open-wheel racing in the U.S. The fans have been passionate about seeing it return to the schedule so we're pleased we could deliver it."
AB Promotions -- a joint venture between Avocado Motorsports Marketing and BMG Event Productions - will manage and promote the event for 2011. Avocado, a Carmel, Ind.-based company, also has a tie with The Mile - managing director Chris McGrath's father, Richard, was a longtime general manager of the racetrack. AB Promotions will use tiered pricing for the 40,000-seat venue, and it will work closely with state government and business leaders and the Wisconsin State Fair Park Board on promotional activities and sponsorship opportunities.
"We are also optimistic about continuing the efforts in subsequent years, so we are highly driven to make this a successful and enjoyable event for all parties involved," said McGrath, who noted the company has negotiated with the Wisconsin State Fair Park Board and the IZOD IndyCar Series to secure a long-term agreement.
"We recognize the challenges The Milwaukee Mile has experienced in recent years," he said. "We're certain that we can deliver an exciting event weekend using a simple, financially well-grounded approach. We want to be back for 2012, building an even higher-value event on the solid foundation of success established in 2011."
BMG Event Productions, which this year has overseen the successful IZOD "Race to the Party" promotion, will handle all aspects of event management, including facilities and equipment oversight and operation, as well as logistics for all associated entertainment and activities.
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series television schedule will be announced at a later date. The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights schedule will be announced in the immediate future.
Date Track Venue
March 27 Streets of St. Petersburg 1.8-mile street course
April 10 Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile road course
April 17 Streets of Long Beach 1.968-mile street course
May 1 Streets of Sao Paulo 2.536-mile street course
May 29 Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.5-mile oval
*June 11 Texas Motor Speedway 1.5-mile oval
June 19 The Milwaukee Mile 1-mile oval
*June 25 Iowa Speedway .875-mile oval
July 10 Streets of Toronto 1.755-mile street course
July 24 Edmonton City Centre Airport 1.973-mile airport course
Aug.7 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course 2.258 mile road course
Aug.14 New Hampshire Motor Speedway 1-mile oval
Sept.18 Twin Ring Motegi 1.5-mile oval
Oct.2 Kentucky Speedway 1.5-mile oval
**TBA TBA TBA
* night race
** Season finale event to be announced. The league has been in negotiations to close out the 2011 season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a 1.5 oval owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. The 2.0 mile oval at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California has been reported as another option, if a deal for Las Vegas cannot be reached. – Lee Bailie
Schedule subject to change