12 races divided among ovals, temporary street circuits and permanent road courses highlight the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights Championship schedule, announced on Tuesday by IndyCar.
"Our goal is to prepare Firestone Indy Lights drivers to become successful IZOD IndyCar Series drivers," said Tony George Jr., manager of business development for Firestone Indy Lights. "We've seen how this has worked recently with drivers having success after graduating from the series. The 2012 schedule continues to help us reach that goal by helping our current drivers gain experience and succeed on all types of racing circuits."
Firestone Indy Lights teams will race at the Raceway at Belle Isle for the first time under IndyCar sanction on the weekend of June 2-3 as part of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. The CART-sanctioned Indy Lights series raced at Belle Isle from 1992-2000 with drivers such as Tony Kanaan, Robbie Buhl and Eric Bachelart among the race winners. The series' return to the 2-mile oval at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Sept. 15 will be the first Firestone Indy Lights race at the track since 2005.
Eight venues that hosted Firestone Indy Lights races in 2011 return and will be run in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series and have additional support from the Mazda Road to Indy. Firestone Indy Lights returns as the headline event at the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivieres on the streets of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. An additional event will be announced at a later date.
The first oval of the season will be the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 25, two days before the Indianapolis 500.
"The opportunity to compete on Carb Day at Indianapolis is an experience that is second to none for our drivers, teams and sponsors and the highlight of the schedule each year," George added. "We feel like our schedule demands the ability of both drivers and teams to master a variety of venues with the end result of a champion who is fully prepared to be an IZOD IndyCar Series driver."
The Belle Isle race and the oval event at Iowa Speedway precede the Canadian stretch, which features races on the streets of Toronto's Exhibition Place, Edmonton City Centre Airport and Trois-Rivieres. A return to the streets of Baltimore will lead into the race at Auto Club Speedway.
2012 Firestone Indy Lights schedule:
March 24-25 St. Petersburg, Fla.
March 31- April 1 Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Ala.
April 14-15 Long Beach, Calif.
May 25 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
June 2-3 Belle Isle Park, Detroit, Mich.
June 22- 23 Iowa Speedway
July 7-8 Toronto, Ontario
July 21-22 Edmonton City Centre Airport
Aug. 5 Trois-Rivieres, Quebec
Sept. 1-2 Baltimore, Md.
Sept. 15 Auto Club Speedway