IndyCar could have a big week of news at PRI Show

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There have been a handful of driver announcements, the schedule release and rules updates that have occurred this offseason for the Verizon IndyCar Series. But the greatest volume of news could well come this week at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show in Indianapolis.

Several panel discussions, Q&As and announcements are expected at the IndyCar booth (#4057) there in Indy. A full list can be found here.

The announcements/insights of note:

Indy Lights engine badging announcement, Thursday, 2 p.m. ET

I’ll admit a bit of surprise when I saw this one pop up on the PRI website, because most indications since the new Dallara IL15 chassis was revealed this May along with engine partner AER was that AER would remain the badge.

This announcement could potentially change that, as Dan Andersen, head of Andersen Promotions, along with INDYCAR’s Brian Barnhart and an engine manufacturer rep TBD are listed to attend.

Just last week, the series announced a delay in its official test scheduled for December 16-17 at Palm Beach International Raceway to January, and cited a need for engine production to match the entry demand. These two announcements may not necessarily be related, but the timing of each release is certainly intriguing.

The Women of Racing panel, Friday, 11 a.m. ET

This will be a chance to hear from four women who have made an impact on the sport. Sarah Fisher, CFH Racing team owner, Pippa Mann, IndyCar driver, Anna Chatten, INDYCAR mechanic/pit crew member and Kate Gundlach, Chip Ganassi Racing Engineer, will be on the panel.

Project 100, Thursday, 4 p.m. ET

Much as the track centennial celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway spanned three years from 2009 to 2011, “Project 100” discussion will probably occur for a lot of 2015 and into 2016, when the 100th Indianapolis 500 will occur. An update from track president Doug Boles on the direction, progress, goals, of ‘Project 100’ and the impact it will have on the historic 2.5-mile race course will follow.

IndyCar Twitter chat with Will Phillips, series VP of technology, Saturday, TBD

Wrapped under the veil of secrecy, with both Chevrolet and Honda extremely tight-lipped over their aero kit developments, we could get some insights on what’s going on in IndyCar’s technical department in a Twitter Q&A with series’ vp of technology Will Phillips. A time is TBD; we figure IndyCar will tease it plenty once a time is determined.

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

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
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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.