The IndyCar Series has announced a 'restructuring' of its earnings distribution designed to provide a financial foundation for new and existing teams committed to running the entire IndyCar Series schedule.
Beginning in 2008, the programme, called IndyCar TEAM: Team Enhancement and Allocation Matrix, will award a minimum of $1.2 million to each car entered to compete the entire season, including the Indianapolis 500.
By implementing IndyCar TEAM, the Indy Racing League will dissolve its existing event purse formula.
"Today's introduction of IndyCar TEAM is an expansion of the Series' Leader's Circle Programme and further enhances the value of racing in the IndyCar Series for all of our team entrants," explained Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and operations division of the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series.
"This is a baseline programme designed to increase as the series grows and as we are successful in attracting sponsors and enhancing league revenues."
In conjunction with the announcement of the IndyCar TEAM program, officials with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced that the purse for the 92nd Indianapolis 500 will increase to at least $13.4 million, a 25 percent increase over the record $10.67 million purse for the 2007 race.
"As the Indianapolis 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway approach some historic milestones in 2009 and 2011, it's only appropriate we strengthen the incentive to compete in 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,'" added Joie Chitwood, president and COO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "The new purse structure for the Indy 500 will help all entries earn more money than ever during the Month of May."
The winner of the 92nd Indianapolis 500 could receive at least $2.5 million, a 42 percent increase over the record winner's payout of $1.76 million awarded to Buddy Rice in 2004. The runner-up could earn at least $1.25 million, with the third-place finisher earning at least $750,000. Fourth- and fifth-place finishing cars will be guaranteed bonuses of $475,000 and $375,000, respectively.
The IndyCar Series champion will continue to receive a $1 million bonus, as in past seasons, with second through fifth place in the final point standings getting end-of-season bonuses of $250,000, $175,000, $125,000 and $75,000.
In addition to the guaranteed $1.2 million for participation in the series, teams will compete for bonuses of $35,000 for first place, $25,000 for second, $20,000 for third, $15,000 for fourth and $10,000 for fifth place at each IndyCar Series race outside of Indianapolis.
There also will be a record number of entries earning at least $1 million in an IndyCar Series season, creating greater depth and financial stability for series' teams.
"IndyCar TEAM really provides some tremendous stability and predictability for our existing teams with respect to their operating budgets, which will make them healthier while positioning us favorably for attracting more teams," said Terry Angstadt, president of the Indy Racing League's commercial division.
All contingency prizes, which totalled more than $1.2 million in 2007, will continue to be awarded to entrants/drivers for individual IndyCar Series events.
The Leader's Circle Program was established in 2002 to provide incentives to teams which participate in the series full time. The program leverages relationships built by the Indy Racing League with its partners, sponsors and suppliers to provide benefits directly to the teams.