For decades the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was all about a single race, the legendary Indianapolis 500, held each Memorial Day weekend.
The IndyCar Series on Tuesday outlined plans for holding another race next May 10 in which the same drivers and cars that compete in the Indy 500 will race on a twisting road course built within the famed 2.5-mile oval track.
The race will be called the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
The idea of holding a road-course race at Indy in May has irked some traditionalists. But although the Indy 500 itself has drawn strong crowds in recent years, with more than 200,000 spectators, the practice and qualifying sessions in May leading up to IndyCar’s crown-jewel race have seen much lighter attendance.
The new road-course race is “all about elevating the month of May, the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar series with more thrilling content,” Mark Miles, chief executive of Hulman & Co., which owns the speedway, said in a statement.
The race, which IndyCar first announced last week, will use a 14-turn, 2.43-mile layout that includes part of the speedway’s oval track. The event will be televised live by ABC, which also carries the Indy 500.
The grand prix will feature a standing start and the cars will race clockwise around the track. That’s the opposite direction of how the Indy 500 is run but the same as when the Formula One series competed at the speedway in from 2000 to 2007.
Team owner Roger Penske, who has won a record 15 Indy 500s, said last week that he had “tremendous respect for the history and the heritage of this special facility” but that a road-course race “will add to the excitement surrounding the month of May in Indianapolis.”
Next year’s 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 is May 25.