US motor racing series IndyCar has released details of its schedule for the 2017 season, confirming a new event at Gateway Sports Park in Madison, Illinois, and a multi-year extension to its race deal with the Watkins Glen International circuit in upstate New York.
The Gateway oval, which will play host to an event on August 26, is returning to the IndyCar calendar after a 13-year absence. The venue staged seven IndyCar races between 1997 and 2003, initially as a CART round before joining the Indy Racing League calendar in 2001.
Watkins Glen will stage the penultimate event of the 2017 campaign on September 3. Confirmation of the multi-year deal taking effect from next season comes after Watkins Glen was selected as a replacement site for the cancelled Boston race this year, with the venue due to stage the rearranged event next week. The permanent road course has hosted nine past IndyCar races, from 1979-81 and again from 2005-10.
Mark Miles, chief executive of Hulman & Co., the parent company of IndyCar, said: “The addition of Gateway Motorsports Park and the return of Watkins Glen International are integral to the continued growth of IndyCar.
“Gateway officials have been enthusiastic about the prospect of hosting an IndyCar Series event for some time and we’re excited to bring the series to the St. Louis market. Watkins Glen is an iconic American road course that is revered by our fans, drivers and teams. Our goal from the beginning was to establish a long-term agreement and we’re thrilled that we’ve been able to extend this relationship for the future.”
Curtis Francois, the owner of Gateway Motorsports Park, added: “More than a dozen track operators around the country sought this IndyCar race for their communities. I firmly believe we came out on top because of the energy, loyalty and commitment to great sports that sports fans of all kinds demonstrate each day in this community.”
For the sixth consecutive campaign, the IndyCar calendar will open with a street race event in St. Petersburg, Florida, on March 12. The 17-race season, which includes a return to all venues featured in the 2016 campaign, will conclude at the Sonoma Raceway on September 17.
The season will consist of a total of six events on ovals, six on permanent road courses and five on temporary street circuits.
Miles said: “As a series we are working diligently to create long-term relationships with our promoters to establish date equity and to provide them with the opportunity to initiate ticket renewals and event promotions earlier, which is pivotal to continuing the increase in attendance at our events.”