Edmonton race expected to be best yet
Edmonton, Alberta, is hosting a summer celebration and the IndyCar Series will be the main attraction.
Northlands, operator of the Rexall Edmonton Indy, has signed an agreement with the sanctioning Indy Racing League to host an IndyCar Series race weekend through 2010. This year's event is July 24-26 and will come on the tail end of two annual week-long public festivals - Edmonton's Capital Exhibition and A Taste of Edmonton.
"We welcome the opportunity to partner with the Indy Racing League during such an exciting time," Northlands president Ken Knowles said. "Under this new partnership, we expect that this year's event will be the biggest and best to date."
The 14-turn, 1.973-mile circuit is laid out on Edmonton City Centre Airport runways that reach 75-feet wide for most of the course.
"Edmonton is all about handling," said Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's Justin Wilson, who won the 2006 race and was runner-up in 2007 under Champ Car sanctioning. "It's a high-speed airport circuit with some very technical corners where you have to be very precise. From Turn 2 to Turn 9 is continuous and very demanding, so you have to keep your momentum."
About 80 percent of the race course, which is five minutes from downtown, can be seen from anywhere in the grandstands.
"The fans are always really enthusiastic," said KV Racing Technology's Will Power, the pole sitter for last year's race. "I think with all the best drivers and teams in one series you're going to see a very competitive race and a lot of good racing. It's the most physically demanding track we did last year. There are really no long straights and there's generally fast corners and it's a very bumpy track, so you're on the wheel a lot. That's what makes it so physical. Obviously, the faster the corner the more downforce there is and the heavier the wheel."
The Rexall Edmonton Indy (5 p.m. ET, ESPN) will follow the July 20 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance. It will be the first IndyCar Series event held in Canada.
"The city of Edmonton and Northlands have put together a first-class event, and we're excited that we can bring the IndyCar Series to such a great venue," said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division of the Indy Racing League. "While drivers such as Justin Wilson and Will Power have raced in Edmonton before, some of our other stars - Danica Patrick, Helio Castroneves, Marco Andretti and Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon - will compete there for the first time. We look forward to a long relationship with the Rexall Edmonton Indy."
Auto racing in the provincial capital dates to the late 1940s - a dirt oval named Breckenridge Oval. It was converted in 1952 to a quarter-mile asphalt oval and re-named Speedway Park. It hosted races in, among others, the Can-Am, Player's Formula Atlantic, Formula 1600 and Trans-Am series. For the Rexall Edmonton Indy, more than $1 million (Canadian) in runway asphalt resurfacing at City Centre Airport is underway.
"This announcement is great news for Edmonton and for race fans across Canada," Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel said. "The economic benefits to our city are extensive and our citizens and corporate sector have really embraced this event, making it one of the most successful racing venues in North America."
Length: 1.973-mile temporary road course, 14 turns
First year of event: 2005
Tickets: On sale through Ticketmaster or online at www.edmontonindy.com.
About Edmonton, Alberta: The capital city of the province is the second-largest (after Calgary) with a metropolitan population of almost 1.1 million. It resides on the North Saskatchewan River, and is the staging point for large-scale oil sands projects and diamond mining operations. In sports, it's most known as being the home of the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL. More about Edmonton: www.edmonton.com/itscoolerhere Indycar.com