The Indy Racing League hopes to add three or four road or street courses to its schedule from 2005, and has targeted Champ Car crown jewels Long Beach, Cleveland and Road America to begin its move away from its current oval-only format.

Sources inside the IRL told racingpress.com that the series' schedule would include between two and four events next season, but that the nature of the new events still depended on the outcome of next week's bankruptcy court hearing that would determine the future of the Champ Car World Series. Judge Frank Otte is due to rule on the ownership of former CART assets - including equipment and race contracts - with original bidder Open Wheel Race Series and the IRL the only foreseeable 'winners'.

CART has struggled to raise sufficient numbers to fulfil its obligations to promoters in recent years, and has seen several of its leading teams defect to the IRL, along with engine manufacturers Toyota and Honda.

IRL spokesman Fred Nation said that it was 'highly unlikely' that the series would be able to add road races in 2004, both because of the pending court ruling and various logistical problems that have to be overcome. However, he confirmed that talks had been held with several circuits with a view to adding them to the schedule in twelve months' time should OWRS fail in its bid to keep Champ Cars alive.

"We don't really have the ability to run those venues [in 2004]," Nation told speedtv.com.

"First, they're under contract to CART. Second, our season is complete, our sponsors are complete, our TV schedule is complete. We have a very limited ability to make any changes at this point. If we make a bid and we are successful, we can put on a 2005 season that will incorporate the best of road and street courses with our oval schedule and preserve them in a way that provides a sound foundation."

 

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