INDIANAPOLIS The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is taking a different tack to bring fans to the track next May a road race.
The speedway's board of directors on Thursday voted to add a second IndyCar race in May at the historic Brickyard. It's the first time IndyCar drivers will compete on something other than Indy's 2.5-mile oval, and it's the first time they'll prepare for two races in one season at the speedway. The road race is scheduled for the weekend of May 10-11, two weeks ahead of the Indianapolis 500.
Organizers hope the addition will help improve attendance and rejuvenate interest in a series that has struggled to regain its fan base since the contentious split with the now-defunct CART series that took place nearly two decades ago.
Speculation increased when it appeared the MotoGP series might bypass Indy, a loss that would have meant Indy's road course was only going to be used by sports cars during NASCAR's race weekend in late July. MotoGP has since announced it will be back at Indy, but the contract expires after the 2014 race.
After IndyCar drivers gave the course good reviews following a test three weeks ago, the idea gained traction.
Mark Miles, the CEO of IndyCar's parent company, Hulman & Co., supported the move all along but remained cautious about what direction the vote would go.
"This event will bring even more energy and action to the month of May for fans and create another showcase for the diversity and excitement of the speedway and the IndyCar Series," Miles said in a statement.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Sprint Cup driver Denny Hamlin was honored by the March of Dimes with the prestigious "Champion for Babies" award in recognition of his work raising awareness for the foundation's signature fundraiser.
Hamlin joined Arnold Palmer, Joe Namath and Greg Gumbel as the fourth recipient of the award, presented at the March of Dimes Volunteer Leadership Conference gala in Washington, D.C.
Hamlin's involvement with March of Dimes began when he was hired to drive the FedEx-sponsored No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Hamlin and FedEx team up each spring to support the March for Babies fundraising walk. They also host March of Dimes National Ambassador families at NASCAR races, and Hamlin has raced with a special paint scheme at Texas each of the past six seasons.