Three challenging new venues and the return of the Milwaukee Mile highlight the diverse 2011 calendar for Firestone Indy Lights.
The 2011 schedule will again feature 12 races divided among six ovals, five temporary street circuits and one permanent road courses.
"Our goal is to prepare Firestone Indy Lights drivers to become successful IZOD IndyCar Series drivers," said Roger Bailey, executive director of the Firestone Indy Lights. “The 2011 schedule achieves that goal by helping our drivers gain experience and succeed on all types of racing circuits.”
Firestone Indy Lights teams will visit Quebec for the storied Grand Prix of Trois Rivieres for the first time in 2011. The race on the Streets of Trois Rivieres will be a headline event and will feature Road to Indy ladder series, the Star Mazda Championship.
Bailey and Canadian standout James HInchcliffe, a three-time winner in Firestone Indy Lights in 2010, were on hand in Trois Rivieres to announce Firestone Indy Lights’ first standalone event since it raced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course in support of the U.S. Grand Prix in 2007.
“We’re very pleased to welcome back the Firestone Indy Lights to the legendary 1.52 mile street circuit of Trois-Rivières,” said Francois Bordeleau, CEO of GP3R. “Many well-known drivers have participated in all kinds of races in the 41-year history of this iconic Quebec street race. We are proud to continue this tradition in welcoming the Firestone Indy Lights. The Quebec fans are definitely looking forward to another great show in August 2011.”
Races at seven venues that hosted Firestone Indy Lights races in 2010, debut events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the Streets of Baltimore and the return of the Milwaukee Mile will be held in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series. The season finale will be held at an oval to be announced at a later date.
For the ninth consecutive year, the Firestone Indy Lights season will begin competition in the state of Florida, with a race on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 25-27.
The series will then return to the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park on April 10-11 before heading to the Streets of Long Beach, Calif., for the third time on April 17-18.
The first oval of the season will be the series' premier event – the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 27 two days before the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500.
"The opportunity to compete on Carb Day at Indianapolis is an experience that is second to none for our drivers, teams and sponsors and the highlight of the schedule each year," Bailey said. "We feel like our schedule demands the ability of both drivers and teams to master a variety of venues with the end result of champion that is fully prepared to be an IZOD IndyCar Series driver.”
Oval races at Iowa Speedway and the Milwaukee Mile precede the Canadian stretch which features races on the Streets of Toronto and Trois Rivieres. New races at New Hampshire and the Streets of Baltimore will lead into the final two ovals of the season at Kentucky and the season finale.
The Firestone Indy Lights is the premier ladder series for drivers and teams striving to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. The top ladder series in the Road to Indy development system, teams compete for more than $3 million in prize money in cars that are second in speed only to the IZOD IndyCar Series at most tracks they visit. Graduates of this fast and cost-effective series include Marco Andretti, Ana Beatriz, Ed Carpenter, Jay Howard, J.R. Hildebrand Alex Lloyd, Raphael Matos and Hideki Mutoh.
The complete 2011 Firestone Indy Lights schedule:
March 26-27 Streets of St. Petersburg
April 9-10 Barber Motorsports Park
April 16-17 Streets of Long Beach
May 27 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
June 18-19 The Milwaukee Mile
June 24-25 Iowa Speedway
July 9-10 Streets of Toronto
Aug. 6-7 Streets of Trois Rivieres
Aug. 13-14 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Sept. 3-4 Streets of Baltimore
Oct. 1-2 Kentucky Speedway
Oct. 15-16 Season Finale TBA