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Miles

MilesIndyCar boss Mark Miles says that the continuity that is built into the newly released 2017 schedule needs to be a cornerstone of the series' future plans.

In contrast to recent years, where venue and date changes have been commonplace from one season to the next, the 2017 calendar is very similar to this year's, with the only significant change being the return of Gateway after a 14-year-absence. Watkins Glen, which was only shoehorned into the 2016 schedule after the planned Boston street race fell over, has had its deal extended and will remain part of the IndyCar landscape for the immediate future. The only significant change is Phoenix's move from early April to the end of the month, which is aimed at avoiding a clash with the NCAA Final Four in the same city.

"[Continuity] is fundamental," Miles said. "It's really important to growing the sport because the foundation of the sport is the quality and the growth of our races, our events in the cities where we compete.

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"The foundation, and the priority for us is to the greatest extent possible, [is to] have continuity from year over year with our races and date equity to the greatest extent possible, and to just grow that base carefully."

The new calendar was also released substantially earlier than in recent years, which Miles hopes will give promoters more time to prepare for their events. IndyCar had also intended to announce its 2018 schedule at the same time, but while Miles says that release will now be delayed, he expects the 2018 calendar to continue in a similar vein to its 2017 counterpart.

"I loved the idea of putting out the '17 and '18 calendars at the same time, and we were really close to doing it," he said. "I expect everybody that's on the calendar for '17 to be on the calendar for '18. But there are still a couple of details like Phoenix as to which week would make the most sense for them.

"And we do think there are still some prospects that need a little more time to be fully developed for both international and other domestic opportunities for '18. So we decided not to go [with an announcement].

"The other thing is the further out we get, the harder it is to really fine-tune the television broadcast schedule, and that matters to us. As you know, we've made real progress with our broadcast partners in finding optimal broadcast times, which help us attract more viewers. We want to continue that focus. The further out you get, the harder it is to pick the exact date when you know a little less about [the network's] other programming. So we'll take a little more time."

GatewayIndyCar has drawn widespread praise from its drivers following the release of the 2017 series schedule, which they say is better-balanced than in years past.

The 17-race season features a six/five/six split between road courses, street courses and ovals, and one new addition with the return of Gateway for the first time since 2003.

"From a driver standpoint, IndyCar is really a dream championship if you seek to be the best at all disciplines," said Josef Newgarden.

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"I like the challenge that when you're working with your team throughout the season; you have to be able to switch between a street course, road course and an oval back-to-back-to-back every weekend in facing a challenge of going from one to the other every time. It's not easy for a lot of people to do.

"Having Gateway added on is just a bonus for me. It's one of those types of tracks that I really like. I think it's going to put on a great show for IndyCar, and it's going to add more to the diversity of what we already have."

"Love the new IndyCar schedule," said RLL's Graham Rahal via Twitter. "Great balance of ovals and road courses, and nice schedule length! If you're an IndyCar fan you must be excited. Next year is the first step in a great future plan thanks to [competition boss] Jay Frye and team! Can't wait."

Rahal's enthusiasm was echoed by Andretti's Ryan Hunter-Reay.

"Great job by IndyCar," he tweeted. "A schedule like this is what makes this series a well-rounded championship."

ECR owner/driver Ed Carpenter tested at Gateway last November, and welcomes the 1.25 mile oval's return.

"I think it's going to be a really good track for the current IndyCar," he said. "It's a very unique and demanding track. Turns 1 and 2 are very tight. [Turns] 3 and 4 are a little more open. Having a little more downforce than the cars had when they were last here in 2003 is going to be a good thing for the quality of racing; the quality of show that we can put on for the fans.

Although the 2017 season will run across a similar timespan as this year's schedule, Ganassi's Charlie Kimball believes that pacing of next year's events will be more sympathetic to teams.

"I think it's a great schedule," he said. "There are some really nice breaks in there – one of the things this year that's been really tough is [the effect] on the guys, the mechanics, their families."

2015 VIR startThe WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race weekend at VIRginia International Raceway gets underway on Friday. Be sure to follow @RACERmag for regular updates on Twitter, and RACER.com for photos, videos, session reports and feature stories.

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WEATHERTECH CHAMPIONSHIP EVENT SCHEDULE:

Friday, August 26 (all times Eastern)

  • 11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Free Practice 1
  • 3:35 p.m. - 4:35 p.m. Free Practice 2

Saturday, August 27

  • 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Free Practice 3
  • 11:55 a.m. - 12:35 p.m. Qualifying

Sunday, August 28

  • 8:05 a.m. - 8:25 a.m. Warm-up
  • 1:35 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. Race – Michelin GT Challenge at VIR for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM/GTD – 2 hours, 40 minutes

TV TUNE-IN INFO: 

2016 Social Image VIR 660

POINTS OF INTEREST:

WELCOME BACK
After a 19-day break since the last WeatherTech Championship race at Road America, the series returns with its one and only GT showcase of the season. Minus the pesky Prototypes and PCs, IMSA’s pride and joy, its GT Le Mans and GT Daytona categories, should combine for another classic at the courage-testing VIR circuit.

FASTER STILL
The 3.3-mile road course recently underwent another round of repaving, which should produce faster lap times and new GTLM and GTD lap records. Surprisingly, the news of the fresh surface wasn’t greeted in a positive light by every competitor.

“Normally I would say that repaving is awesome,” said Ben Keating, who won the Road America GTD race with Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 33 Dodge Viper GT3-R. “However, we have found that our Viper GT3-R handles bumps better than a lot of our competition. Therefore, we want the bumpiest tracks possible. I think the repaving helps our competition more, but the added grip from the new pavement at Watkins Glen this season allowed us to really trim out our aero and increase our top speed at the end of the straight. My guess is that this will be our plan at VIR too as it has one of the longest straights we see.”

STREAKS AND AMBITIONS
10 GTLMs and 14 GTDs are expected to participate in Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge, and with three rounds left to run, including VIR, teams have no time to waste if they want to be crowned champions at the season finale in Road America.

Gavin MilnerComing into VIR, GTLM has become a battle of Michigan’s finest as Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner are riding a two-race win streak in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R, and behind them, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe rode a three-race win streak in the No. 67 Ford GT prior to Corvette getting the upper hand.

At 264 points to 251, the Bowtie boys will obviously want to put more distance between their C7.R and the Blue Oval’s GT, and with no Balance of Performance changes to the class for VIR (barring refueling tank flow restrictors), we should see a continuation of the Corvette versuss Ford battle that raged in Wisconsin.

And behind them, the No. 3 Corvette C7.R (223 points), No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 (220 points), and the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 and No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR are tied for fifth (219 points). It’s marching time in GTLM, and thanks to IMSA’s small points payout structure, those trailing the top two will need to win big if they want to make it a three-, four- or five-way race to the title.

GTD finds itself in a similar position where a distinct separation exists between the genuine contenders and those with a lot of ground to make up over the final three rounds. Defending class champions Scuderia Corsa hold first with Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan in the No. 63 Ferrari 488 (243 points), and they have a surging No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 piloted by John Potter and Andy Lally on the hunt in second (228 points).

Add in the aforementioned No. 33 Dodge Viper GT3-R for Keating and Bleekemolen in third (222 points), the No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell in fourth (212 points), and the No. 23 Alex Job Racing/Team Seattle Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Alex Riberas and Mario Farnbacher in fifth (207 points), and GTD is far from settled.

This weekend’s race – for the sake of pure GT enjoyment and for the season-long championship implications – should not be missed.

No2The iconic 1966 Le Mans-winning P/1046 GT40 shared by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon made its highly anticipated "return to the track" at Lime Rock Park following a meticulous 20-month restoration performed by East Kingston, New Hampshire-based Rare Drive, Inc.


Restoration of the car took almost 4,000 man-hours since December 2014, with as many as seven professional restorers working on the racecar daily. Restoration required fabrication of parts that no are longer manufactured, such as the windshield and the entire exhaust, which, in keeping with its original development, is unevenly spaced at the rear of the car.

Enjoy RK Motors Charlotte's "Legend of Le Mans," which features RK Motors founder and president Rob Kaufman taking the car through Lime Rock's twists and turns in a ride that simulates the elevation changes of Le Mans.

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No2

Jenson Button F1 2016

McLaren driver Jenson Button believes next year's new-look Formula 1 cars will scare drivers again.

The 2009 world champion feels Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery's suggestion that the 2017 cars would drive like they are "on rails" thanks to a major hike in downforce are wide of the mark.

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Button compared the feeling of driving the current generation of the cars unfavorably with the best he has experienced during his 17 seasons in F1, but believes the fear factor of the most challenging machinery will return.

"I remember going through Turn 5 onto the back straight at Jerez and you would have one eye closed thinking 'is this thing going to hold?' said Button. "You couldn't hit the brakes because the tire would deform and you wouldn't be able to turn in as the steering would be so heavy. So it was a light dab on the brakes, turn in and then you would just be waiting for the twitch.

"If you got the snap oversteer, either you were off or you lost a massive amount of time. Now, you arrive and you slide through the corner and you drift.

Jenson Button BAR F1 testing 2003 Jerez

"It's just a very different feeling. It doesn't scare you as much. It will next year, it will be awesome."

Button did say that the current cars are enjoyable to drive in qualifying trim, but having compared last month's German GP to a race from his first season, he believes the spectacle has been damaged.

But he is confident next year's rules, which include wider tires and revised aerodynamics, will boost the spectacle, albeit at the cost of extra weight with cars becoming 20kg (44 pounds) heavier.

"On the quail lap, you can still have a lot of fun and in the race you still have fun because it's about finishing as high as you can and having good battles, so it's still really enjoyable," he added. "I watched Hockenheim after the race and then I watched Spa from 2000 as well because that was on TV and listening to the engines was just phenomenal – that's a big part of it.

"Next year, Formula 1 is doing the right thing with the tires, with the aerodynamics. It's a great step forward and where the sport needs to go, so it's good to see.

"There's always going to be a negative, and the negative is that we are going to be heavier."

Originally on Autosport.com

Image81Take three of Mazda's iconic Le Mans and IMSA 4-rotor prototypes, one of its 4-rotor IMSA GTO cars, and give the brand's motorsports manager an opportunity to play conductor during warm-up at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, and you have the first-ever 16-Rotor Symphony.

More Monterey Motorsports Reunion In-Car:

Lotus 79 Formula 1 Visor Cam

Porsche 935 JLP-3 Visor Cam

Mazda RX-792P IMSA GTP Visor Cam

1986 Porsche 962 Visor Cam with Skylar Robinson

Porsche 908 Visor Cam with Gunnar Jeanette

 

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lat ellman indy 0529 3630More of the same should be the theme of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar schedule as it's nearly a carbon copy of this year – except for the addition of one venue.

It's 17 races spread over seven months, all in North America, that were officially announced Thursday but IndyCar boss Mark Miles told RACER last weekend it's all about continuity.

"There hasn't been a lot of continuity in our schedule over the past few years, so that's what we're working for and obviously it's a very important ingredient," said Miles, the president and CEO of Hulman & Company. "We wanted to get it out as early as possible for the promoters, fans and sponsors – and we think it's a pretty solid schedule."

gatewayAs first reported several weeks ago by RACER, Gateway Motorsports Park (pictured in 2003) outside St. Louis is the only new track added for 2017 as the racy oval in Madison, Ill. will return after a 14-year absence with a night race on Aug. 26.

"Today is a monumental day for the people of the St. Louis region," said Gateway Motorsports Park owner Curtis Francois. "I am proud of the progress we've made at my hometown track. I knew someday we would be making an announcement like this because I have such confidence in the people of this region and their commitment to great sporting events.

"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."

“I think it’s a good track for our cars and since we’ve got more downforce than the last time we ran there in 2003 it’s going to be a better show,” said Ed Carpenter, who tested at Gateway last year.

The season again opens in March at St. Petersburg, Fla. and finishes in mid-September at Sonoma with Detroit hosting the lone double-header in June. The most diverse schedule in motorsports includes six road courses, five street races and six ovals.

Among the highlights of 2016 was IndyCar's return to old standbys Phoenix, Watkins Glen – which announced a multi-year agreement on Thursday – and Road America, where a massive crowd turned out at Elkhart Lake, Wis. to watch Indy cars for the first time since 2007.

2017 VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES

March 12 – St. Petersburg
April 9 – Long Beach
April 23 – Barber
April 29 – Phoenix (night race)
May 13 – Indy Grand Prix
May 28 – Indianapolis 500
June 3 – Detroit
June 4 – Detroit
June 10 – Texas (night race)
June 25 – Road America
July 9 – Iowa
July 16 – Toronto
July 30 – Mid-Ohio
Aug. 20 – Pocono
Aug. 26 – Gateway (night race)
Sept. 3 – Watkins Glen
Sept. 17 – Sonoma

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Tim ClausonThe celebration of racer Bryan Clauson's life was interrupted by stormy weather Wednesday afternoon at Kokomo Speedway but not before Tim Clauson delivered an emotional and compelling speech about his 27-year-old son to the packed house at the track where he began his sprint car career 14 years ago.

Fellow drivers Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Dave Darland, Conor Daly, Pippa Mann, Chad Boespflug and Ricky Stenhouse were all in attendance to honor the four-time USAC champion's life, which was cut short earlier this month at Belleville, Kan.

ROBIN MILLER: Remembering Bryan Clauson

 

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