After a six-year hiatus, open-wheel racing will return to Houston – marking nearly the exact same time frame since the last revival of the Houston Grand Prix. IndyCar announced Wednesday the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, held Oct. 4-6, 2013 at Reliant Park's 1.7-mile, 10-turn street circuit.
Houston has held prior open-wheel races in downtown for CART from 1998 to 2001, and again with Champ Car at the same Reliant Park course after a five-year gap, from 2006 to 2007. Mike Lanigan of Mi-Jack Promotions, also a co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, will promote the event.
“When we look at growing our schedule, one of our top objectives is to showcase our racing in major U.S. cities, which in turn helps our sponsors, team owners and television package and is key to the success of our sport,” said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, who added that at this point IndyCar hasn't determined if this race would be the season finale. “As the fourth-largest city in the country, Houston is a great fit for the IZOD IndyCar Series and Reliant Park will be a tremendous venue.”
“It's exciting for us to be back in Houston,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of RLL, and a prior competitor at Houston both as a driver and team owner. “With Houston being the fourth largest city in the United States and having Mike Lanigan as the promoter with his experience both in Houston and Cleveland, plus the support of Shell and Pennzoil, this is great news for the IndyCar Series. I joined Mike several years ago to speak with the business community about the potential of having a Grand Prix and it was clear that there is a tremendous amount of local support for the event, which is critical for long-term success. It will be a marquee event for the series.”
Sebastien Bourdais won both of the Reliant Park races in 2006 and 2007, and Graham Rahal scored his first career Champ Car podium in the 2007 race there. A runner-up finish by the then 18-year-old came on the same day when Rahal opted to miss his senior prom for the race.
Also on Wednesday, IndyCar announced it will hold a test of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car on April 4 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500. Teams will be limited to one car each at the test.
"What was originally scheduled to be a manufacturers' test has been expanded to provide each team the opportunity to send one car to the test," said Will Phillips, vp of technology for IndyCar. "Dallara has worked hard to make sure all the required parts are available to allow teams to test the new package."
Rookie drivers will not be part of the April 4 test as Rookie Orientation Program is slated for May 10 at the Speedway.