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$5m Vegas bait to lure guest star drivers

IndyCar is offering a $5 millon dare to top drivers from other series around the world if they can come and win the series finale at Vegas in October from under the noses of the series regulars.
The IZOD IndyCar Series today confirmed the long-assumed news that Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be the venue for the final race of the 2011 calendar on October 16: but in doing so they added a headline-grabbing twist in the process.

"We showcase our drivers as being the very best, fastest and most versatile in the world," said series CEO Randy Bernard, "and we are putting our money where our mouth is. If any race car driver in the world outside of the IZOD IndyCar Series can win the Vegas race, we will give you $5 million."

In offering the prize, the series organisers are seeking to demonstrate why they believe that IndyCar's equal mix of oval and street car events produces the "most demanding championship in motorsports" and consequently the best drivers in the world - or in America, at least - and certainly a match for those stock car drivers over in NASCAR.

"There are a lot of drivers that talk about wanting to race in IndyCar. We believe that the skill set it takes and just the toughness and willpower to get behind the wheel of these cars is pretty amazing," Bernard continued. "Those top drivers are going to expect to have a great team, so they are going to have to talk to the Roger Penskes and the Chip Ganassis and the Michael Andrettis and on down and make sure that they feel that they have a shot of winning this race."

The challenge is particularly aimed at the NASCAR superstars, who will be competing in the Sprint Cup the evening before at Charlotte Motor Speedway, leaving them plenty of time to head on over to the Vegas oval track for Sunday. It may also be enough to lure some familiar names out of retirement, such as Al Unser Jr. and KV Racing Technology-Lotus co-owner Jimmy Vasser, who would be eligible as they are not current IndyCar drivers; but current active F1 drivers will be ruled out as the date clashes with the Korean Grand Prix weekend.

Barnard explained that they would accept up to five outside entries, to be determined by a selection committee mid-summer, and that the Vegas event would be henceforth be promoted as the IZOD IndyCar World Championships. The race will be IndyCar's first return to Vegas since 2000 although Champ Car made use of the speedway in 2004 and 2005.

In a further promotional innovation, IndyCar also announced that any fan who buys a ticket for the other 16 races of the season will be eligible to receive a free ticket to the Vegas race.

"I said at the IndyCar State of the Sport in mid-January that we must give our fans a great experience with three primary elements - great entertainment, competition and value," said Bernard said. "Las Vegas Motor Speedway will provide some of the fastest and most exciting racing fans will see anywhere, and the ticket promotion is true value. This is a time when IndyCar can tell our fans that we thank them for their support."

In the US, the ABC television network confirmed that Vegas will be one of the events they show, along with the season opener from St Petersburg, the Indianapolis 500, the Milwaukee Mile and the New Hampshire Motor Speedway; cable channel VERSUS will air the rest. In the UK, Sky Sports has already signed an exclusive deal to carry all the IndyCar races in high definition, although the announcement stopped short of promising that all races would be aired live.

In other pre-season news from IndyCar:

DHL delivers for Hunter-Reay




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Will Power and Carlos Munoz flank winner Mike Conway during their victory lap (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrating his victory (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz, Mike Conway and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz, Mike Conway and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway in action in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway poses for pictures after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway poses for pictures after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway and team boss Ed Carpenter pose for pictures after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates with champagne after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates with champagne after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway poses for pictures with the team from Ed Carpenter Racing after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates pole position in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay leads Sebastien Bourdais during the early stages of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay leads James Hinchcliffe during the early stages of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)

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JB - Unregistered

February 24, 2011 11:18 PM

Yep, it is too bad that F1 is racing that weekend. I'd love to see a few F1 robots get their bums kicked. There's no way an F1 driver would win on an oval in a different car. I doubt they'd do that well on the road courses too(all new) for a while.

JJJ - Unregistered

February 23, 2011 6:33 PM

Still kind of a fun idea. Montoya could be a shoe in at Ganassi, maybe they overlooked that possibility when they came up with this. Wouldn't it be awesome if F1 drivers did more races outside F1 like in the old days? Bourdais did Le Mans and Alguersuari finished his season in WSBR, but we never see the top F1 drivers doing sportcar races or indy like in the old days. Guess they're afraid to hurt their extremely valuable images as the world's fastest drivers.



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