The Sounds Of Indy Cars Testing Excites Drivers And Fans
The sweet sound of 650-horsepowered IZOD IndyCar Series open-wheel machines rang through the historic Milwaukee Mile one-mile oval this week when 23 talented drivers returned the famed track in preparation for the June 17-19 Milwaukee 225 racing weekend.
Coming off a wild 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 last Sunday, drivers such as champions Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan as well as fan favorites Will Power, Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, Simona de Silvestro, Graham Rahal and Helio Castroneves set their respective race cars through high-speed paces as bright sunshine (70 and 80 degree weather) returned to the Wisconsin State Fair Park as well.
With the IZOD IndyCar Series away from the famed Mile since 2009, the open-wheel stars were anxious to get back to one of their favorite venues for a test run before the 225-lap feature set for Sunday, June 19, at 2:30 p.m.
“It feels so good to come back to Milwaukee,” said defending race winner Scott Dixon, whose bright red No. 9 Target Honda/Dallara/Firestone car was a pleasure to racing fans who watched from the turn one parking lot at the Fair Park. “We can really race here and the track is so good for our cars. I think everyone missed coming here last year.”
Dixon’s remarks were echoed by every driver who tested on Wednesday and Friday at the Mile.
A long winter and spring of tough weather in the Milwaukee area switched to summer-like conditions for the two days of IndyCar Series testing. Ticket sales have been brisk since the sun has returned and the sound of the Indy cars gave racing enthusiasts the opportunity to watch their favorite stars prepare for the Father’s Day weekend event.
“I complained like heck to bring back the Milwaukee Mile to the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule,” said Patrick, the only Wisconsin-born driver in the field. “This track just lends to great racing with the IndyCars. We put on a great show for the fans here. And the drivers love competing at this track. Plus there is so much racing history at Milwaukee.”
No racing facility has hosted more Indy car-type races than the Milwaukee Mile. Some 115 consecutive races were contested at Milwaukee before the cars failed to compete in 2010. AB Promotions brought the series back in 2011.
“There is no doubt that we missed coming here last year,” said Kanaan, a two-time Milwaukee winner. “It is so much fun to race in Milwaukee. The track is great, the fans are great and the racing is always good.”
“This is my favorite oval track,” said current IZOD IndyCar Series point leader Power, a two-time 2011 winner. “You can do so much side-by-side racing at Milwaukee. The flat track makes for a driver’s track. I like that part of racing.”
Even rookies like Indy 500 runner-up J.R. Hildebrand and Charlie Kimball enjoyed the testing despite their limited experience the old Milwaukee Mile.
“It is a big difference in the long straights at Indy to the quick turns at Milwaukee,” said Hildebrand, who was just a straightaway from winning the world’s biggest race. “You really have to work the car and it is physical with the flat track.”
Legends like Barney Oldfield, Wilbur Shaw, Rex Mays, Billy Vukovich, A.J. Foyt, Rodger Ward, Mario Andretti, Rick Mears, Bobby Rahal, Michael Andretti and others have battled on the legendary West Allis oval dating back to 1903. The Mile is the oldest continuous racing facility in North America and the drivers are thrilled to have it back in action again.
“I have won the pole four times here but I have never won the race,” said Castroneves, the three-time Indy 500
champion. “This is one place I would love to get to victory lane. I have been fast here before, but weird things have happened. I was ahead with 20 laps to go a few years back and the rear wing fell off. I really like racing in Milwaukee and I want to win here badly.”
After a successful two days of testing, the drivers and teams prepare for the high-banks of Texas Motor Speedway on June 11 and then return to the flat one-mile Milwaukee Mile on June 19.
“I know one thing,” said Franchitti, the two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion and 2004 Milwaukee 225 winner. “As drivers, we can’t wait to come back and race at this place.”
Qualifying for the IndyCar Series and USAC Series races are set for Saturday, June 18, with the Milwaukee 225 IndyCar race scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 19. Tickets are available at the Wisconsin State Fair Park, at www.milwaukeemile2011.com or by calling 800-722-3840.
Racing action will began at 10:15 a.m. on Friday, June 17, and will include the IZOD IndyCar Series, USAC Silver Crown, USAC Midgets, Star Mazda Championship and USF2000 machines.