Dec 2, 1998 - F1 is coming to Indy. IMS and
Formula One announced there will be a U.S. Grand
Prix in 2000 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Read all about it at U.S. Grand Prix 2000.
Also don't miss my Indycar/Formula One
comparison at F1 vs IRL vs CART
Dec. 16, 1998 - Seven permanent large-screen
video displays will be installed at the Indianapolis
Motor Speedway in time for use at the 1999
Indianapolis 500. [I've seen one from behind at a
distance. They are BIG! 30 feet wide or so.]
The purchase and installation of the seven
permanent screens is the first phase of the video
screen project. More large-screen video displays
will be purchased and installed after completion of
a new Master Control Tower, Formula One circuit
and other construction in 2000.
May 24, 1998 - Eddie Cheever wins the 82nd
Indy 500 and collects 1.4 million in prize money!
(Over 8 million in total prize money for this year's
event.) Steve Knapp wins rookie of the year.
1998 - Tony Stewart is running alot of the Busch
series races in anticipation of running NASCAR in
June 15, 1998 - Speedway President, Tony
George, proposes plan to FIA for holding an
American Formula One race at the speedway for
the year 2000. If they decide to go for it, Tony will
build a road course to run thru the middle of the
speedway's huge infield. It will include the main
straightaway and the first turn, although they will
run the opposite direction that normal. Tony says
he has the cash to do this, but needs to get started
on it now if its to be completed in time. He also
said that this would be the largest attendance of
any F1 race in the world. (Come on Bernie!!)
July 31, 1998 - Mark Martin wins the Inaugraul
IROC @ INDY race and the 1998 IROC
Championship. He pocketed $225,000 for winning
the 4-race series. A new energy-absorbing wall
buffer was tested by Arie Luyendyk after he spun
head on into it at 160 mph after being hit by Tom
Kendall. He suffered a minor concussion.
Someday, these wall buffers may be placed on all
August 1, 1998 - Jeff Gordon wins the Brickyard
400. The first person to do it twice. Not only did
he collect $637,625 for the race, he also wins the
Winston No-Bull $1 million bonus prize . This
gives him a total of $1,637,625 - THE LARGEST
PAY OUT IN AUTO-RACING HISTORY!
September - It appears that with the loss of New
Hampshire, the IRL will be running a second race at
Pikes Peak in 1999. Also, the Charlotte race has
been moved to May 1!
Sep 24, 1998 - A rumor of a oral agreement
between IMS and Formula One to bring an F1 race
here for September 2000 was announced today in
the Indianapolis Star. The Speedway denies that
any agreement has been reached. However, it has
been determined that Indianapolis' main
competition for an F1 race, Las Vegas, dropped out
of contention. Does IMS want to spend the 15
million to add the roadcourse to the existing track?
Evidently so. However are they willing to pay the
F1 ransom (rumored to be between 10 & 26
million)? And if they do, can they sell enough
tickets to pay for it?
Oct 11 - Kenny Brack and A.J. Foyt's Power
Team win the Pep Boys IRL 1998 Championship.
Robby Unser wins the Rookie of the Year honors.
Oct 12 - Coors Brewing Company and the Pep
Boys Indy Racing League announced today a new
sponsorship agreement for racing events beginning
with the 1999 season. Coors Light will become the
first-ever Official Beer of the Pep Boys Indy
Racing League and the Official Beer of the
Oct 19 - Two new teams to join the IRL for the
1999 season: Scott Harrington will be driving for
his father's team, rookie Greg Gordon will drive for
Oct 21, 1998 - Gordon Johncock, two-time Indy
500 winner, is named to the International
Motorsports Hall of Fame. Gordo won 23 IndyCar
races in his career and was the series champion in
Nov 21 - 1998 - 1998 Pep Boys Indy Racing
League champion Kenny Brack and car owner
A.J. Foyt were the biggest winners Saturday night
at the league's annual awards banquet, as points
fund bonuses totaling $2.7 million were presented
to drivers and teams at the Murat Theatre. Brack
and Foyt shared the evening's biggest award, the
Pep Boys Million, a $1 million bonus for winning
the season championship.
May 1998 - The Pace Car for this year's 500:
April 10, 1998 - Sad news. Mrs. Mary Fendrich
Hulman, the matriarch of IMS, died at age 93
today. Tony, president of IMS, is her grandson.
She was the person who would state the famous
words, "Gentleman, start your engines" at the
beginning of races up until last year when she
became too ill. Now her daughter, Mari Hulman
George, starts the races.
Jan 1998 - The IRL now has a Title Sponsor; Pep
Boys! They will be bringing a lot of money and
advertising to the series including a million dollar
prize for the series championship. They are also
sponsoring a car. Reebok, who also is sponsoring a
team, was competing with Pep Boys to be the
series sponsor. As a side note, CART has replaced
their PPG series sponsorship with FedEx.
Pep Boys is the nation's leading automotive
aftermarket retail and service chain with 698 stores
in 33 states and DC. The company employs more
than 24,000 people nationwide, with total annual
sales in excess of $1.8 billion.
"This is a landmark day in the history of the Indy
Racing League," said Tony George. "Pep Boys
was founded in 1921, just 10 years after the first
Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Both Pep Boys and
the Indy Racing League are rapidly expanding
companies, building on our heritage. We are proud
to be associated with Pep Boys," he said.
And with this comes a new IRL logo:
1998 - Tony Stewart and Arie Luyendyk are
running in the 4 race IROC series.
Jan 24, 1998 - Tony Stewart won the Indy 200
in Orlando. There were quite a few yellows in the
first half of the race, but no one was injured. The
track seemed to be especially slippery after the
morning rain. There was some excellent racing in
the second half, especially by Buddy Lazier who
looked like he was riding the razors edge... and
apparently went over it as he lost control and the
lead and hit the inside wall backwards.
Feb 98 - Arie Luyendyk's GT1 team won the 24
hours of Daytona in his Ferrari.
March 22, 1998 - Scott Sharp wins the Phoenix
200 in a competitive field. This was about the
most exciting race you could ever see! We're
talking FIVE wide!!, Ari sliding along UPSIDE
DOWN!!, and an entire wheel assembly flying
throught the air and right towards Scott
Goodyear's face! It missed him by a fraction.
Ari was ok, his helmet deeply scarred but he did
hurt his hand when he instinctively reached out to
protect his head. Although it looked terrifying, Ari
just said "It was cool!" Unfortunately, due to the
"Provisional Qualifying", last years champion, Jim
Guthrie, didn't get to compete once again this year.
Jan 1998 - They are always spending big bucks to
improve the speedway. This new annoucement is
especially cool. The main control tower at the start/
finish line is being replaced after 40 years. The pagoda
style returns! The new one is going to be 90 feet taller
than the current one and the square footage is almost
13 times more! Construction is to begin late in 98 and
be finished in time for the 2000 Indy 500.
Old Pagoda Tower
Artists rendering of new tower.
May 6, 1998 - Longtime USAC standout Jack
Hewitt will drive for PDM Racing in the 1998
Indianapolis 500, team owner Paul Diatlovich
announced today. Said Hewitt: "I've got the
opportunity because (IMS president) Tony George
has brought Indy-style racing back to America.
Right now there are more boys-next-door than
there's been in a long time."
Hewitt, from Troy, Ohio, won the USAC Silver
Crown national championship in 1986 and 1987.
He is the winningest Silver Crown driver in USAC
history, with 20 victories. He also has 42 career
USAC sprint-car victories, tied for third (with
Pancho Carter) on the all-time list. He is one of the
winningest drivers ever with the All Star Circuit of
Champions winged sprint car series, with 58 wins.
He is also one of the most popular drivers in all of
short-track racing, a man who has scores of
adoring fans that follow his every step. He says
"I don't know if I'll be the fastest guy at Indy, but
I can guarantee you that no driver will make a
greater effort to reach out to the fans."
May 6, 1998 - IMS has received permission to
broadcast a weak tv signal of live coverage. This
will allow people sitting within IMS to view the
coverage on their portable tv's!!
May 16, 1998 - Billy Boat wins the Indy 500 pole!
May 21, 1998 - Scott Goodyear and his Panther
Racing Team win the Indy 500 Carb Day Pit Stop
competition and collects $40,000 in prize money.
|The Big Race News from 1998
IRL REBOUNDING FROM TWO BIG HITS
By Brian Hilderbrand
Las Vegas Sun
LAS VEGAS (Scripps Howard News Service
08-07-1998 18:38 EDT) -- The Indy Racing
League lost one of its original tracks this week
and faces losing one of its brightest stars at the
conclusion of this season.
New Hampshire International Speedway on
Tuesday declined to renew its contract with the
IRL and 27-year-old Tony Stewart is leaving the
series after this season for a full-time ride in
NASCAR's Winston Cup Series.
Neither move, Stewart said, will hurt the fledgling
"That race is always poorly promoted, it wasn't
the (fault of the) IRL," Stewart said during a
break in tire testing at Las Vegas Motor
"I don't think you can say it's bad for the IRL
when we're running at Atlanta and Texas and
Charlotte and Dover and Indianapolis Motor
Speedway and Las Vegas. We're running at
some really, really nice facilities now so I don't
think it's going to hurt us."
Stewart, a former USAC midget, sprint and
Silver Crown champion, will make his final
regular IRL start on Oct. 10 at LVMS. Beginning
next year, Stewart will limit his Indy-car racing to
the Indianapolis 500.
Despite being one of the only stars to be created
by the IRL and certainly its most recognizable
driver, Stewart said his departure won't have a
devastating effect on the series.
"It's not going to hurt it a bit," he said. "They've
got a lot of talent in this series and there are a lot
of talented guys that will be coming into the series
so I'll be an afterthought shortly."
About the only thing that is hurting the series,
according to Stewart, is what he feels is
unwarranted criticism directed at the series by
many open-wheel racing fans.
"The criticism, you've got to take with a grain of
salt," he said. "You ask 10 different people the
same question and you'll get 10 different answers
and they're all opinions.
"In my opinion, the IRL has been a success from
day one. All you've got to do is look at the facts:
the series is in its third year now and look at the
venues that we're going to, we've got a title
sponsor and we're running for a million-dollar
"I don't know how you can't call it a successful
series already. People who say it's not a successful
series really don't know what they're talking
Drivers in the Championship Auto Racing Teams
(CART) Series have been shut out of the
Indianapolis 500 for the past three years as a result
of IMS president and IRL founder Tony George's
formation of the new league. But the upstart IRL
still suffers from a lack of recognition -- and fan
support -- despite annually competing in the
world's premier open-wheel race.
That, Stewart said, will change in time.
"There are a lot of people who aren't very open-
minded about the IRL," he said. "A lot of people
are scared of change and don't like change and it's
going to take time. But the IRL is not going to go
away, it's going to survive.
"People have got to realize that and quit arguing
and griping about (the split) and realize they've got
two good Indy-car series to watch on TV. I don't
know what people are whining about."