INDIANAPOLIS – The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule was announced on Thursday, featuring a 17-race season that provides continuity, adds a new event at Gateway Motorsports Park and confirms a multi-year agreement with Watkins Glen International.
The Gateway Motorsports Park race will be contested on Aug. 26, 2017. The track has hosted seven previous Indy car races, including CART contests from 1997-2000 and the Indy Racing League from 2001-2003.
“Today is a monumental day for the people of the St. Louis region,” said Curtis Francois, owner of Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill. “I am proud of the progress we’ve made at my hometown track. I knew someday we would be making an announcement like this because I have such confidence in the people of this region and their commitment to great sporting events. More than a dozen track operators around the country sought this IndyCar race for their communities. I firmly believe we came out on top because of the energy, loyalty and commitment to great sports that sports fans of all kinds demonstrate each day in this community.”
Current Verizon IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves won the event in 2003 and his Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya won in 2000. Two other current drivers – Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon – have also competed at the 1.25-mile oval.
“I think it’s great that we’re going back to Gateway,” Castroneves said. “Personally, I like it because I’ve had success there but also that I used to race for Hogan (a St. Louis-based Indy car team in 1999), which makes it a special place to me. I won there with Team Penske in 2003 and there was an all-Brazilian podium with Tony (Kanaan) and Gil (de Ferran). I remember that we had a really good car. I think we started from the pole and led a lot of laps. I know that the people of St. Louis will get a heck of a show. The track isn’t a typical oval with the irregular shape, which makes it challenging. It’s a track well suited for IndyCar. I’m looking forward to it.”
Watkins Glen Int’l will host the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen this season on Sept. 4. It was added to the 2016 schedule in May when a proposed street race in Boston, Mass. — scheduled for Labor Day weekend — was canceled.
The permanent road course, steeped in open-wheel racing history, will return on Labor Day weekend again in 2017 under a new multi-year agreement with IndyCar.
“The addition of Gateway Motorsports Park and the return of Watkins Glen International are integral to the continued growth of IndyCar,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Gateway officials have been enthusiastic about the prospect of hosting a Verizon IndyCar Series event for some time and we’re excited to bring the series to the St. Louis market. Watkins Glen is an iconic American road course that is revered by our fans, drivers and teams. Our goal from the beginning was to establish a long-term agreement and we’re thrilled that we’ve been able to extend this relationship for the future.”
In addition to coverage from ABC and NBCSN, all Verizon IndyCar Series races can be heard on the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network, available through network affiliates, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the INDYCAR Mobile app and IndyCar.com.
The 17-race season includes a return to all of the venues on the current schedule and the addition of Gateway. That gives the series six contests on ovals, six on permanent road courses and five on temporary street circuits.
IndyCar experienced a 38 percent growth in both television ratings and viewership from 2013 to 2015 and the same numbers are up this season by a total of 7 percent compared to this time last year. Attendance at IndyCar events is also on the rise; with six events this season drawing crowds at or near record highs.
“The release of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule continues to build upon the success IndyCar has experienced the last three years and establishes continuity and consistency in our event calendar,” Miles added. “As a series we are working diligently to create long-term relationships with our promoters to establish date equity and to provide them with the opportunity to initiate ticket renewals and event promotions earlier, which is pivotal to continuing the increase in attendance at our events.”
The 2017 season begins on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 17 and concludes at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway on Sept. 13. It will be the third straight year the champion will be crowned at the 12-turn, 2.38-mile permanent road course in Southern California.
2017 Verizon IndyCar Series Schedule
Date – Venue – Location
March 12 – Streets of St. Petersburg – St. Petersburg, Fla.
April 9 – Streets of Long Beach – Long Beach, Calif.
April 23 – Barber Motorsports Park – Leeds, Ala.
April 29 – Phoenix Int’l Raceway – Avondale, Ariz.
May 13 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course – Indianapolis, Ind.
May 28 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Indianapolis, Ind.
June 3-4 Raceway at Belle Isle Park – Detroit, Mich.
June 10 – Texas Motor Speedway – Fort Worth, Texas
June 25 – Road America – Elkhart Lake, Wis.
July 9 – Iowa Speedway – Newton, Iowa
July 16 – Exhibition Place – Toronto, Ontario
July 30 – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – Lexington, Ohio
Aug. 20 – Pocono Raceway – Long Pond, Pa.
Aug. 26 – Gateway Motorsports Park – Madison, Ill.
Sept. 3 – Watkins Glen Int’l – Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Sept. 17 – Sonoma Raceway – Sonoma, Calif.
CREDIT: INDYCAR Communications