The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series relish going to racetracks that have infield portions within an oval track. After all, the series' Rolex 24 at Daytona headliner race takes place on the Daytona International Speedway road/oval circuit; the series visits Homestead-Miami Speedway. So why not make the trek to Indianapolis Motor Speedway IMS) for the 2012 season?
The Grand-Am cars will race next year on "super Weekend at the Brickyard," to be held July 26-29. The Grand-Am races are scheduled for July 27 on IMS' road course.
There was a test held at IMS two years ago to test the waters and the drivers and teams were all in favor of a visit to the 100-plus year-old facility. "This is huge for the sport, for our team and it's huge for me personally," said reigning Grand-Am Rolex Series champion Scott Pruett, who has raced in the Indianapolis 500 four times (best finish was 10th in 1989). "When we had the opportunity to go and test at Indy in 2009, it was incredible to go back. After racing Indy cars and NASCAR stock cars at Indianapolis, to get the opportunity to go there with Grand-Am is one of those absolute pinnacles in racing."
The weekend will include the marquee NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' Brickyard 500 on July 29 and will, for the first time on the historic 2.5-mile oval, feature a race by the NASCAR nationwide Series on July 28.
"Grand-Am is an organization on the move and this announcement personifies that fact," declared series president Tom Bledsoe. "This is a great, great day for Grand-Am and for sports car racing in North America. We have been negotiating with IMS to make this happen while also working in concert with NASCAR to put together the most attractive event possible."
This 2012 weekend marks the first time in track history that races will take place on the 2.5-mile oval and the 2.605-mile, 13-turn Grand Prix road course during the same weekend. The length of both the Grand-Am and Nationwide races has not yet been decided.
Rolex Series regular combatant David Donohue raced at Indy in the 2001 Porsche Supercup Series, finishing eighth in two races. His late father, the legendary Mark Donohue, won the Indy 500 in 1972, giving this circuit one with special meaning for the driver. "Indianapolis Motor Speedway is such an iconic race track," Donohue said. "It's one of those places where there's an electricity when you step on the grounds. Going to race there with Grand-Am is a long-time dream and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to realize that dream."
Indianapolis Motor Speedway has confirmed that Friday, July 27 will be a one-day visit for both the Rolex and Continental Grand-Am series, with practice, qualifying and racing to take place on that single day. The four-day Super Weekend also features NASCAR Nationwide Series practice on Thursday, July 26, Nationwide practice, qualifying and race on Saturday, July 28 - along with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice and qualifying - and the Brickyard 400 race on Sunday, July 29.
© 2011 Anne Proffit