Shorter month of May at Indy? UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. IndyCar Series teams will have less time to practice for the 93rd Indianapolis 500 and other races on the 2009 schedule, the Indy Racing League confirmed Friday.
Two practice days have been trimmed from the 500's May schedule and most of the other series races will be reduced to two days of track activity.
"It's clearly a response to the economic times we're facing," league spokesman John Griffin said.
Full practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been pushed back to Wednesday, May 6, and the Wednesday (May 13) practice in the event's second week will be eliminated.
Team officials said it is too early to predict how much the savings will be, but reducing the frequency of accidents is significant. Even minimal contact with a wall at the Speedway can cost a team $100,000 to repair the damage.
"The only drawback is possible rain," Craig Baranouski, team manager of A.J. Foyt Racing, said of the shorter 500 schedule. "I think (officials) need to have flexibility, especially in the second week. The teams are going to be there anyway."
The IRL has not said what days the series will be on the track at its 16 other races, but many are likely to be two-day shows.
The 500's four-day, two-weekend qualifying format will remain. Pole day, which sets the race's first 11 starting spots, will be Saturday, May 9.
The annual rookie program begins Tuesday, May 5.
The Speedway's three-year Centennial Era, which includes the 100-year anniversary of the first 500 in 1911, begins May 1 with the first of three days of balloon activities.
Two balloon races will commemorate the first competition in the Speedway's history -- in June of 1909. The races May 2-3 will be known as the Founders Race and the 100 Years Race, respectively. IndyStar01/16/09 It's been rumored the Indianapolis Motor Speedway could trim the schedule for May to save teams a little money.
Nothing official as yet but it's believed the track might not open until Tuesday (May 5) for rookie orientation and Wednesday (May 6) for the veterans, giving them three days of practice prior to the first weekend of qualifying (May 9-10). The past couple years, rookies were the only drivers allowed on the first two days of practice and IMS opened on Sunday, with vets allowed out on Tuesday.
Depending on the number of rookies and their progress, it's possible they could also get some additional time on Wednesday as well.
Since 2000, the Monday and Tuesday following the first weekend of time trials have been dark and this year it may also include Wednesday. So basically, it would save two full days for the teams without rookies.
"For the established teams it wouldn't matter, but for the one-off teams and smaller guys any track time is helpful," said Derrick Walker, who has been on both sides of the fence during his two decades as a car owner.
"On the flip side, it's less time to wear out engines, burn through tires and hit walls. It's not a huge impact on your budget but it would help some. Of course the weather could play havoc and then you might really miss any time if it's pissing rain all week." SPEEDTV.com