IRL timeline

By Times staff writer
Published March 30, 2007

March 11, 1994 Tony George issues release about possible formation of new Indy car series.

July 8, 1994 Indy Racing League name is announced.

Jan. 22, 1995 Walt Disney World Speedway named as venue for first race.

Jan. 27, 1996 Buzz Calkins beats Tony Stewart before an estimated crowd of 51,000 in the first IRL race.

Feb. 14, 1996 Nissan announces plans to join Oldsmobile as an IRL engine manufacturer for 1997 season.

May 26, 1996 Buddy Lazier wins the first IRL-sanctioned Indianapolis 500; Calkins and Scott Sharp later tie for the first league championship.

May 16, 1997 League eliminates the "25/8" Indy 500 qualifying procedure. The format assured starting spots for regular IRL teams and left rival CART teams bitter.

June 7, 1997 Arie Luyendyk wins first night race in Indy car history, held at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Dec. 6, 2001 Team Penske, an original CART team, switches to the IRL.

April 2, 2002 Toyota announces plans to join the IRL in 2003.

May, 2002 Honda announces plans to join in 2003 also.

Sept. 15, 2002 Sam Hornish wins second IRL title.

May 25, 2003 Gil de Ferran, above, wins Indy 500, giving Team Penske three victories in a row at Indy

Aug. 3, 2004 IRL announces a scheduled expansion for 2005 to include its first non-oval races at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) and Sonoma (Calif.)

Sept. 9, 2004 IRL announces plans to run its first non-oval event in St. Petersburg on a 1.8-mile course used by CART in 2003.

April 3, 2005 First IRL-sanctioned Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Andretti Green Racing drivers sweep the top four spots. St. Petersburg resident Dan Wheldon wins the race and goes on to capture the season title.

April 2, 2006 Helio Castroneves wins the second Grand Prix of St. Petersburg after leading a race-high 40 laps.

May 28, 2006 Sam Hornish passes rookie Marco Andretti just before the finish line for his first Indy 500 victory. Hornish goes on to take the season title, winning a tiebreaker over Wheldon.

Sources: Indianapolis Star; Times archives