Verizon IndyCar Series driver Charlie Kimball turned the first ceremonial laps today on the new track surface at Gateway Motorsports Park, repaved recently in anticipation of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline race weekend Aug. 25-26.
Kimball, driver of the No. 83 Tresiba Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, gave rides to local media in an official Honda pace car on the 1.25-mile oval in Madison, Illinois, minutes from St. Louis.
"I think it's awesome,” Kimball said of the new surface. “The investment made to repave and update the surface is significant. The fact that we're coming back in August to a much smoother racetrack than we tested on (in early May) is going to create a lot better racing for Verizon IndyCar Series cars under the lights."
Indy cars raced at Gateway for seven consecutive years beginning when the facility opened in 1997. The list of winners reads like a who’s who of the sport’s greats: Paul Tracy, Alex Zanardi, Michael Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Al Unser Jr., Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves.
The complete surface of the egg-shaped oval was repaved for the first time this summer, ahead of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return for the first time in 14 years. It is the third phase of a multimillion-dollar capital improvement plan undertaken by track owner and CEO Curtis Francois, who purchased the facility in 2012.
“To be able to compete under the lights in August on a Saturday night on a short track like Gateway is going to be fantastic,” Kimball said. “I think the way Turn 1 and Turn 3 are so very different is going to lead to an incredible event and the new asphalt will only add to that.”
Verizon IndyCar Series teams are scheduled to test on the new surface on Aug. 3, three weeks ahead of the race weekend. The Aug. 25-26 schedule includes competition in two levels of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires: Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires.
Schedule and ticket information is available at www.gatewaymsp.com/indycar/ or by calling (618) 215-8888. Tickets start at just $35. Children 15 and under receive free general admission with a paid adult. The race airs live at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
Pocono Raceway makes leadership changes
Brandon Igdalsky, Pocono Raceway’s president and chief executive officer, has resigned to take a position with NASCAR as managing director of event marketing and promotion. Looie Mattioli, Pocono Raceway’s chairman of the board, announced that Nick Igdalsky, Brandon’s brother, was elevated to CEO and Ben May was promoted to president.
Pocono Raceway hosts the ABC Supply 500, the 14th race on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, on Aug. 19-20.
“This is a great opportunity for Brandon and we are going to miss him,” Mattioli said. “And we are excited for Nick and Ben. We have a tremendous team here at Pocono Raceway and we look forward to a seamless transition.”
Nick Igdalsky, an accomplished race car driver with experience at several levels, held the role of chief operations officer and senior vice president at Pocono for the past 10 years while also overseeing South Boston Speedway in Virginia. He is the third CEO in Pocono Raceway history. The Igdalskys are grandsons of track founders Drs. Joseph and Rose Mattioli.
“I am very grateful and excited,” said Nick Igdalsky. “I have observed every aspect of the operation here at Pocono Raceway, starting as a 13-year-old, and look forward to working with our incredible team. Our goals remain the same: to create exciting and lifelong experiences at a beautiful and sustainable facility and that will remain our focus.”
May has worked at Pocono for 17 years and served as chief marketing officer since 2014.
Tickets for the ABC Supply 500 are available at poconoraceway.com or by calling (800) RACEWAY.
Beam signed by drivers put in place at Phoenix Raceway
The steel beam signed by the entire field of drivers competing in April’s Verizon IndyCar Series Phoenix Grand Prix and attending fans was installed Wednesday in one of the new redesigned and expanded entrances associated with the Phoenix Raceway Project powered by DC Solar. Those who signed the steel beam will forever see their part of the new Phoenix Raceway, as it will be visible from the top of the new Canyon 1.
The steel beam is part of nearly 250,000 pounds of steel and more than 8,500 square feet of metal decking that will make up Canyon 1. Once completed in 2018, the Canyons will serve as immersive and interactive entrances for fans, featuring vertical transportation by way of escalators that will conveniently and quickly transport them to their seats.
The new entrances are part of a $178 million modernization project that is adding new grandstands, removing old ones, transforming the infield area including the garages and media center, a new pit road, infield fan zone and new pedestrian tunnel underneath the track, creating a new fan midway and moving the 1.022-mile oval’s start/finish line to Turn 2.