By Brenda L. Holmes firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — SPEEDWAY — The staff at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway got a little help with opening day ticket sales for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis from IndyCar Series team owner Sarah Fisher.
Fisher was given the honor of selling the first tickets to John Herod of Speedway when they went on sale at 9 a.m. Monday.
“We are very excited to see another race at the speedway,” Fisher said. “As an open wheel fan, this is very exciting for me.”
The Grand Prix of Indianapolis is the first road-course event at IMS for the IndyCar Series. It will be May 8-10, 2014, on the newly designed 14-turn, 2.434-mile circuit. The 98th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 25 on the historic 2.5-mile oval.
“There are some obvious concerns squeezing two events into the same month,” Fisher said. “But they’re trying to make this affordable for the fans. And we’re up for the challenge.”
Fisher, who also gave race fans rides in a two-seater, said she loves being a part of the racing community and loves visiting with fans.
“I like spending time with the fans,” she said. “And in racing, they really have a lot more access to us. And it’s so important that we spend time with them.”
As a team owner and former driver, she was able to take to the streets of Speedway with a few local fans. Mike Albert of Zionsville was the first fan to take a spin in Fisher’s two-seater.
“It was great,” Albert said. “It’s a totally different feel and a little bit of a rough ride.”
He said he got up early and headed over to IMS to be one of the first people in line to get tickets for the new race.
“It was well worth getting up early,” Albert said. “I’m very excited about the new race.”
He said dodging Monday morning traffic with Fisher was a unique experience that he wouldn’t trade.
The new Grand Prix of Indianapolis, the first IndyCar Series road race at IMS, will jumpstart the month of May at IMS and build toward the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500.
May activities will begin with IndyCar Series practice for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 8. Practice and qualifying are scheduled for May 9, with the race being on May 10.
All series in the Mazda Road to Indy will compete during the event, placing a singular spotlight on all levels of North American open-wheel racing throughout May at the Racing Capital of the World.
The race will feature a standing start and will run clockwise, the opposite of the Indianapolis 500, creating even more diverse competition during the month.
A $5 million reconfiguration project is underway on the existing IMS road course that will transform the layout with more speed and more hard braking zones to create additional passing opportunities and competitive racing. Additional spectator mounds and grandstands should also enhance the fan experience by providing more exciting vantage points to see the action in the infield section of the course.
Practice for the 98th Indianapolis 500 will open May 11.
IndyCar Series stars Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti are expected to try to become the fourth driver to win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” four times, joining legends A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears. The return of 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya to the race with Penske Racing should also be a major fan attraction.
Tickets are now on sale and may be purchased by visiting the website at www.ims.com/tickets or by calling (800) 822-INDY or 492-6700 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Tickets are also available at the IMS administration building at the corner of Gerogetown Road and 16th Street in Speedway. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets for groups of 20 or more are available by calling 866-8775.