Milwaukee flashback: Jourdain domination in Mile Centennial of 2003

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Although 2003 was a lean year for the then-Champ Car World Series, it marked a major milestone in the history of The Milwaukee Mile.

The track celebrated its 100th anniversary, and for the occasion, much changed at the historic one-mile oval in West Allis, Wis.

A purpose-built, large, new grandstand was erected to replace the historic, iconic covered one that had been a staple at “the Mile” for decades. Additionally, the Champ Car race was to be run on Saturday night under the lights, with temporary lighting brought in by MUSCO.

It was a bitterly cold night with temperatures barely in the 40s, and as such, an early crash took several drivers out of the race. Bruno Junqueira, Roberto Moreno and Patrick Lemarie were all out on the spot.

But from the green flag Michel Jourdain Jr. got past polesitter Alex Tagliani, and the Mexican never looked back. Jourdain, who had been cruelly denied his first victory earlier in the year with a gearbox issue on a pit stop in Long Beach, took a popular first win driving for Bobby Rahal, after leading a then-record 234 of 250 laps.

Jourdain had the toughest luck of anyone at Indianapolis qualifying this year. He reunited with Rahal for another attempt after running in the team’s second car in the 2012 Indianapolis 500. Despite the team’s effort this year, it couldn’t find the handling or setup on the No. 17 Honda and Jourdain was left high and dry, unable to even make a qualifying attempt on Bump Day for this year’s Indianapolis 500.

Some historical notes from this race and in the decade that followed:

  • The podium of Jourdain, Oriol Servia in second and Patrick Carpentier in third was matched exactly later that year in Montreal, for Jourdain’s second and last victory.
  • This race marked the first and only Milwaukee starts for Lemarie, Tiago Monteiro and Joel Camathias. Lemarie was the forerunner at what is now KV Racing Technology, as the first driver for the then-PK Racing squad. Monteiro, who famously finished on the podium in the 2005 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, drove a Reynard co-owned by Emerson Fittipaldi. Camathias, meanwhile, was one of six drivers to lace up the driving boots for Dale Coyne Racing in 2003 (along with these gems: Roberto Gonzalez, Alex Yoong, Gualter Salles, Geoff Boss and Alex Sperafico).
  • Tagliani, Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay are the only three drivers from that field expected to race at this Saturday’s Milwaukee IndyFest. Servia isn’t expected to, barring a last-minute appointment at either Panther or Dale Coyne Racing.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.