In this section of MTAF Wheels IndyCar 2014 preview, I will be taking a look at this season’s schedule.
The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule consists of eighteen races at fourteen different venues. The venues include five street circuits, four road courses, three superspeedway ovals which are part of the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown Challenge, one intermediate oval, and two short ovals. The Fuzzy’s Triple Crown Challenge features the three 500 mile races on the schedule (Indianapolis, Pocono, and Fontana). A $1 million dollar bonus is awarded if a driver can win all three events during the season and $250,000 if a driver can take two of the three races.
Included in each race is the date, location, race track length, television information, the race events Twitter accounts and official race hashtags (race hashtags subject to change), and also a summary of the race and brief commentary on last years event.
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete
Albert Whitted Airport; St. Petersburg, Florida
1.8 mile temporary street circuit
For the eleventh time, IndyCar returns to St. Petersburg, Florida for the “World’s Fastest Spring Break”. Last year saw James Hinchcliffe passing three time St. Pete winner Helio Castroneves on a restart and would eventually hang on to clinch his first IndyCar victory. Hinchcliffe dedicated the win to the late Dan Wheldon, who won at St. Pete in 2005. Turn 10 of the circuit is named “Dan Wheldon Way” in honor of the two time Indy 500 and 2005 IndyCar champion.
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Streets of Long Beach, California
1.9 mile temporary street circuit
The 40th running of the longest running street race in the United States, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is often known as the “Monaco of America”. The circuit has hosted IndyCar racing since 1984. Last year’s running saw Takuma Sato leading 50 of the 80 laps and become the second driver in three seasons to win his first IndyCar event at Long Beach joining Mike Conway in 2011. It was AJ Foyt Racing’s first IndyCar win since Airton Dare won at Kansas in 2002.
Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama
2.3 mile permanent road course
IndyCar heads to this beautiful natural terrain circuit for the fifth time. Team Penske won the first three events at Barber, and last season, 2012 IndyCar champ Ryan Hunter-Reay ended Team Penskes reign by winning the race from the pole holding off a hard challenge from Scott Dixon. The circuit features multiple elevation changes and the famous “Charlottes Web” turn.
Inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, Indiana
2.4 mile combined road course
For the first time, IndyCar’s will run on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with the Inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. The event will open up the Month of May at the track. During the offseason, the road course was reconfigured to make the circuit more competitive, better for the fans, and suited for IndyCars.
98th Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, Indiana
2.5 mile oval
The 98th running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”, the Indianapolis 500 is the marquee event on the Verizon IndyCar Series calendar. Last year’s race saw a record sixty four lead changes and a new race record at an average of 187.433 breaking the old record of 185.981 set in 1990 by Arie Luyendyk. The race was won by Tony Kanaan, who finally won the race in his twelfth attempt after so many heartbreaks. The Indianapolis 500 is the first race in the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown Challenge.
May 31st and June 1st
Chevrolet Belle Isle Grand Prix
The Raceway at Belle Isle Park, Detroit, Michigan
2.3 mile temporary street circuit
ABC 3:30pm (both days)
The first of three doubleheaders for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar season. Last year’s doubleheader at Belle Isle saw Mike Conway win his second IndyCar race driving for Dale Coyne, and a first time winner in Simon Pagenaud driving for Schmidt/Hamilton/Peterson racing. It’ll be the fifteenth visit for IndyCar at Belle Isle with the first year being in 1992. From 1989-1991, IndyCar raced in Detroit at a downtown circuit.
Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas
1.5 mile intermediate oval
Site of the first IndyCar race run under the lights in 1997, Texas Motor Speedway hosts the Verizon IndyCar Series for the twenty fifth time. The race distance has increased to 248 laps from 208 last year making it a 600 kilometer race (372 miles). Helio Castroneves won last year ending an unusual winless streak for Team Penske. Some have labeled Texas as the second biggest IndyCar race of the season in terms of prestige behind only the Indianapolis 500.
June 28th and 29th
Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston
Reliant Park, Houston, Texas
1.6 mile temporary street circuit
NBCSN 3:00pm (both days)
The second doubleheader weekend, the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston moves up to the month of June after racing in October last season. Scott Dixon and Will Power were winners of last year’s doubleheader weekend. The race takes place at Reliant Park, which houses Reliant Stadium and the Houston Astrodome. The temporary street circuit is run in mostly a parking lot.
Pocono IndyCar 500
Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pennsylvania
2.5 mile triangular oval
Last year was the first IndyCar race at the Tricky Triangle since 1989. Scott Dixon started his magical run to his eventual third IndyCar title at Pocono as Chip Ganassi Racing swept the podium with Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball, and Dario Franchitti. This is the second race of the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown Challenge and the race distance has increased from 400 miles to 500 miles making all Fuzzy’s Triple Crown events 500 miles in distance. Turn 2, which is called “The Tunnel Turn”, is arguably one of the toughest turns to maneuver in auto racing.
Iowa Corn Indy 300
Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa
0.875 mile oval
IndyCar makes it eighth visit to the Hawkeye state for 2014. This year’s race will have a new distance of 300 laps. The previous seven races had a distance of 250 laps. James Hinchcliffe led all but 24 laps in last year’s race for his third victory of 2013. It was his first victory on an oval. The race will return for a Saturday night date after having the race on a Sunday afternoon last year. Iowa Speedway was designed by former NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace to resemble Richmond International Raceway.
July 19th and 20th
Honda Indy Toronto
Exhibition Place, Toronto, Canada
1.7 mile temporary street circuit
NBCSN 3:00pm (both days)
The second longest IndyCar street race behind Long Beach, Toronto’s Exhibition Place has hosted IndyCar’s since 1986. This will be the last of the doubleheader weekends in 2014. Last year’s event also saw a doubleheader with Scott Dixon sweeping the weekend by dominating both races. The second race of the doubleheader a year ago saw the return of the standing start, the first time it has been used since the 2008 race at Long Beach.
Honda Indy 200
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio
2.25 mile permanent road course
First hosting IndyCar racing in 1980, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car course is the third road course of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Last year’s race saw a fantastic duel between Charlie Kimball and Simon Pagenaud. Kimball made a daring pass late in the race that had his car partially in the grass but made it work and would go on to win his first IndyCar race. This is the only venue on the Verizon IndyCar circuit to have a separated start and finish line.
ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest
The Milwaukee Mile, West Allis, Wisconsin
1 mile oval
The Milwaukee Mile is one of the oldest ovals in the United States. Other than Indianapolis, Milwaukee has hosted the most IndyCar races on an oval. It’ll be the first time since 1982 that an August IndyCar race has happened at the Milwaukee Mile. Last year’s event saw Takuma Sato leading the most laps but an untimely pit stop forced Sato out of sequence with the rest of the field. Ryan Hunter-Reay scored his second straight win at Milwaukee and third overall.
GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma
Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, California
2.5 mile permanent road course
IndyCar racing first visited Sonoma in 1970 with Dan Gurney winning with his All-American Racers team. IndyCar racing wouldn’t return to Sonoma until 2005 and has been at Sonoma Raceway ever since. Last year’s event saw a battle between championship contenders Will Power and Scott Dixon. A controversial penalty on pit road cost Dixon a chance for victory and Power would finally get his first win of 2013. It was Power’s third win at the track and has been so far the only multiple winner in the event.
MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships
Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California
2 mile oval
The 2014 Verizon IndyCar season wraps up on Labor Day weekend in Fontana, California. This race is the last leg of the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown Challenge. IndyCar racing first raced here in 1997 and would do so through 2005. IndyCar returned to Fontana in 2012. Will Power got his first true oval win at last year’s race holding off Ed Carpenter. Scott Dixon finished 5th and clinched his third IndyCar title defeating Helio Castroneves by twenty seven points. Auto Club Speedway holds the closed course speed record that was set in 2000 when Gil de Ferran qualified his Reynard Honda at an astonishing 241.428 mph.
With racing on ovals, road courses, and street circuits, the Verizon IndyCar Series is one of the most diverse racing series on the planet. It all kicks off on March 30th with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete which is a week from Sunday. The long offseason is nearly over.
Are you ready for some racing?
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.