IndyCar racing on the streets of Toronto has just become doubly exciting for race fans, and doubly important for racers, as the IndyCar series presented its 2013 calendar.
The IZOD IndyCar Series will be comprised of 19 races over 16 weekends and will feature a Triple-Crown competition that will award $1 million to the driver who can win the Indianapolis 500, the Pocono 400 and the season-ending race in Fontana, California,
“We are really excited,” said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard in a conference call on Monday. “The biggest thing for us is the fact we are going from 15 races to 19 races and continue to showcase the fastest, most versatile race car and race-car drivers in the world.”
The 2013 season opens on March 24 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and closes on Oct. 19 at the Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, California. The 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place in its usual spot, on May 26 during Memorial Day weekend in the United States. The series also returns to the streets of Houston, Texas, in October and to Pocono Raceway on June 7. IndyCars last raced at the Pennsylvania track in 1989.
“It’s great to have IndyCar coming back to this legendary speedway,” said Brandon Igdalsky, president and CEO of Pocono Raceway. “(And to) a speedway that was started with the help of IndyCar racing back in the ’70s.”
The return of a race at Pocono coincides with the return of IndyCar’s Triple Crown of Motorsport. The bonus event ran from 1971 to 1980 with three 500-mile races - Indianapolis 500, the Pocono 500 and the California 500. Al Unser is the only driver to ever win the Triple Crown, when he accomplished the feat in 1978.
The other new feature added to the 2013 IndyCar season is the inclusion of three doubleheader weekends, where stops on the calendar will feature a race on Saturday to go along with the regular Sunday race. Next year’s doubleheaders will be held in Detroit (June 1 and 2), Houston (Oct. 5 and 6) and Toronto (July 13 and 14).
“A doubleheader allows us to go further, faster,” said Charlie Johnstone, vice president of event promoter Green Savoree Toronto. “We are extremely excited to make it happen.”
“We have always seen great racing in Toronto,” Bernard said, adding that it was important to have two races in Canada. The fact that Toronto is one of the largest cities in North America also played a part in the decision. “Fans can always count on great on-track action, heated tempers and flag-to-flag drama. The fact we’ll get to do it twice this year will certainly entertain everyone.”
The IndyCar CEO said the series has been considering doubleheader races for some time. He said the model was looking for ways to build exposure for teams, drivers and sponsors while boosting viewership.
“We felt this was one of the ways that would make sense,” Bernard said. “It gives our fans the opportunity to see twice the action on the weekend.”
The busiest month of the season will be June, when there are five races on the schedule. While IndyCar is always looking to expand its calendar, Bernard said only decision-making factor is to have a competitive series of races.
“The most important thing is sticking to our goals and objectives that we want to have strong races,” he said. “We are going to stick to our plan and we are not going to make any shortcuts on this thing.”
Complete information on the IZOD IndyCar Series is available on the IndyCar website.