After nine years without a home in the United States, Formula One returns to America for the 2000 season. In December 1998, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp. (IMS) and Formula One Administration Ltd. announced an agreement to bring Formula One racing to the United States in 2000 in Indianapolis.
The US Grand Prix will take place annually on a permanent, 2.55-mile (4.076 km) circuit to be built at IMS — the famed Brickyard of Indy 500 lore — part of the multiyear agreement between the two parties. The date for the inaugural USGP at Indianapolis has recently been announced as September 24, 2000, to follow the mid-June Canadian GP and the well-known Memorial Day (late-May) running of the Indianapolis 500.
Jim Clark and Graham Hill won back-to-back Indy 500s for Colin Chapman’s groundbreaking Team Lotus. The advent of F1-inspired rear-engine monocoques revolutionized US motor racing and led, within just a few years, to the end of the era of Offenhauser-powered front-engine race cars at Indy and in the entire “Champ Car” USAC (now CART) series. “Being able to bring Formula One not only back to the United States but back to Indianapolis, where Formula One took place in its growing years, I am sorry that Colin cannot be with us to witness the return,” said Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive officer of FOA.
The new USGP circuit utilizes a portion of the famed Indy oval, including the main straight and Turn One, with the cars running clockwise (the reverse of US oval racing). Additional sections of the new road course were constructed in the infield adjacent to Turn Four and Turn Two. IMS made a multimillion-dollar investment in new facilities, including the course in the infield, new pitside garages with suites, and a media center. New FIA-regulation pits were constructed in what is now the seating area south of the Control Tower. Historic “Gasoline Alley” and the current garage areas for the IndyCar and Nascar series were left unaffected by the construction. By February of 1999, workmen had already begun laying foundations for the 36 two-story garages and 12 suites that will be built inside the south end of the pit area where part of the Tower Terrace grand stands once stood. Final construction was completed in early 2000.
A strong advocate of the US Grand Prix coming to IMS is Speedvision announcer Derek Daly, a former F1 driver and participant in six Indy 500s. Now living in Indianapolis, Daly’s chief mechanic in F1 was Charlie Whiting, currently FIA race director and safety delegate. “The US Grand Prix will now have a permanent home, hopefully for years to come,” Daly said. “The next step is for the World Championship to have an American driver. . . . The curiosity level will be higher than the interest level in the early years of the race, which will fill the grandstands. The interest level will take years to build, because America has to grow up with it. But more important than that, what will accelerate the interest in America will be a young American driver.”
Tickets for the US Grand Prix are now on sale. Those interested in receiving an order form may send a postcard with name and address to US Grand Prix at Indianapolis, P.O. Box 24916, Speedway, IN 46224 or call (800) 822-4639. Ticket information forms are also available on the Web or by e-mail request to firstname.lastname@example.org.