IndyCar will host a road race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, the first time the open-wheel racing series will compete on the hallowed track’s winding interior course.
The eight-member IMS board of directors approved the revolutionary move Thursday.
The race will take place the opening weekend of Indianapolis 500 festivities—May 8-10. The track will undergo reconfiguration this fall and next spring to create more passing zones and vantage points for fans, according to the IMS.
The 98th running of the Indy 500 is scheduled for May 25, with qualifying for the oval-track race scheduled between the two races.
“This event will bring even more energy and action to the Month of May for fans and create another showcase for the diversity and excitement of the Speedway and the IndyCar Series,” said Hulman & Company CEO Mark D. Miles. “The new road race will further enhance the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the premier motorsports destination in the world and direct an even brighter spotlight on the Indianapolis 500."
The IMS was mum on further details, deferring to a media event Oct. 1.
The move is the highest-profile break from tradition yet in Miles' tenure. He became CEO of the family-owned firm that operates the race track in December. IBJ reported earlier this month that he was investigating the possibility of running a road race at the Speedway, in addition to other ways to overhaul "Month of May" festivities.
Until this year, racing IndyCars on the IMS road course has only been a pipe dream, often talked about but never seriously considered by the Hulman-George family that runs the Speedway.
The IMS road course has hosted series including the Formula One race from 2000-2007, the annual MotoGP event that debuted in 2008, and the Grand-Am Rolex Series that first competed at IMS in 2012.
The course has been criticized by F1 and more recently, MotoGP racers, for just about everything including being bumpy, dusty, slick and boring.
Miles has said that an IndyCar road race would be intended to restore some horsepower to May.
“We only had a few thousand people on [Indianapolis 500] opening day this year and we keep doing the same things and it's not working,” Miles recently told Racer.com. “I want to protect the Indianapolis 500 but we need to look at what we can do to help the race and IndyCar. We need to make more out of the month and I don’t see how starting off with a road race could hurt it.”