It's official: MotoGP coming to IMS in '08 Motorcycle racing will return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time in nearly a century with the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008 for MotoGP, the world's premier motorcycle road racing series.
Officials from IMS and Dorna Sports, the commercial rights holder for MotoGP, have reached a multi-year agreement to stage motorcycle racing at the Speedway for the first time since an event on the 2.5-mile oval on Aug. 14, 1909, the year the facility opened.
The Red Bull Indianapolis GP will take place on a new 16-turn, 2.601-mile (4.186 km) motorcycle road course at IMS that will feature the riders traveling counter-clockwise, the same direction as the facility's oval events.
"We welcome the excitement and passion of MotoGP racing and its fans to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis GP," said Joie Chitwood, IMS president and chief operating officer. "The very first motorized race at IMS was on two wheels, so it's only fitting that motorcycles are returning as we approach the 100th anniversary of the track.
"Fans of MotoGP know just how thrilling this form of racing is, and our new road-course configuration will create even more side-by-side action and passing opportunities for the skilled riders."
The inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis GP will feature three days of on-track action starting Friday, Sept. 12. The 125cc and 250cc classes also will compete as support series during the event.
"We are very happy to be able to add this event to the MotoGP calendar because tradition and history play such a big part in our sport, and nowhere in the world has as much motorsport history as Indianapolis," said Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta.
"The U.S. is obviously a very important market to us, and when we returned to Laguna Seca a couple of years ago for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, it was an instant success. The next step was to come to Indianapolis, and now to be able to say we have two MotoGP events in the United States shows just how far our sport has come in recent years. We hope that the Red Bull Indianapolis GP will be another success story, and we are already looking forward to next year's first event with anticipation."
MotoGP is the most sophisticated, prestigious motorcycle racing series in the world. Riders compete on prototype, 800cc machines from major manufacturers, including Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. MotoGP bikes, which create nearly 250 horsepower despite weighing only approximately 330 pounds, can reach speeds of nearly 210 mph.
The 2007 series schedule features 18 races in 15 countries around the globe.
Defending World Champion Nicky Hayden, from Owensboro, Ky., is one of five Americans who have scored points in the 2007 MotoGP season. The others are 2000 World Champion Kenny Roberts Jr., Colin Edwards, John Hopkins and Kurtis Roberts.
Other MotoGP superstars include five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi of Italy, current points leader Casey Stoner of Australia, Alex Barros of Brazil, Marco Melandri of Italy, Dani Pedrosa of Spain and Chris Vermeulen of Australia.
"I'm really excited about this race," Hayden said. "It is great that Red Bull is committed to the growth of MotoGP in America, and coming to such an historic track like Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be really special to me. It's like my home race. I'm sure all of Owensboro will make the drive up north!"
IMS opened in 1909, and the first Indianapolis 500-Mile Race was conducted in 1911.
The 2008 Indianapolis 500 will take place Sunday, May 25, 2008 and will be the 92nd running. The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event, was added to the IMS schedule in 1994. The 14th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is scheduled for Sunday, July 29, 2007. The two races are the two largest-attended single-day sporting events in the world.
Formula One also competed at IMS from 2000-07 in the United States Grand Prix.
IMS is the only facility in the world to play host annually to these three major circuit-racing series in the world: IndyCar Series, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and MotoGP.