The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 is coming to Gateway
Six Verizon IndyCar Series drivers who kissed the fabled Yard of Bricks after clinching victories at the hallowed grounds of the Indy 500 will compete with 15 additional world-class racers at the inaugural Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline at 8 p.m., on Sat. Aug. 26, at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois. A series of pre-race activities, known as the St. Louis Speed Festival, leading up to the IndyCar race will begin on Sat., Aug. 19.
Gateway Motorsports Park, home of INDYCAR, NASCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis region, is located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis. Covering more than 340 acres, the park is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the area. Gateway facilities include a ¼-mile drag strip, a 1.25-mile superspeedway, 1.6-mile road course, a state-of-the-art Karting facility and a 14-acre multi-purpose dirt off-road venue.
INDYCAR drivers from all over the world will vie for the checkered flag on the recently repaved 1.25-mile egg-shaped track in August. Previous Indy winners set to compete include Brazil’s Helio Castroneves, a three-time Indy champ (2001, 2002, 2009) now driving for Team Penske; the defending Indy champion, Japan’s Takumo Sato; Alexander Rossi, who won the Indy 500 as a rookie in 2016; Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014); Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan of Salvador, Brazil (2013); and New Zealand’s Scott Dixon, four time Indy car champion and 2008 500 winner. Other drivers hoping to make the victory lap hail from Australia, Canada, Columbia, France, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
The event is not the first open wheel race at Gateway. Previously, Indy cars raced at the park for seven consecutive years beginning when the facility opened in 1997; although drivers raced under the banner of various sanctioning bodies such as the Indy Racing League (IRL) and Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART). The list of winners from those days reads like a who’s who of the sport’s greats: Paul Tracy, Alex Zanardi, Michael Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Al Unser Jr., Gil de Ferran and Castroneves. In fact, it was Castroneves who clinched the flag at Gateway 14 years ago, his 10th of 29 career titles, in what turned out to be the last IndyCar race at the track.
This year’s race is the first time in the history of Gateway Motorsports Park that all of the drivers and all of the teams from the Indianapolis 500 will be competing under one sanctioning body, INDYCAR.
In preparation for this year’s event, Castroneves, 2017 IndyCar points leader Simon Pagenaud, as well as six other top Verizon IndyCar Series drivers turned out to test the new pavement earlier this month. The update is the third phase of a multimillion-dollar capital improvement plan undertaken by track owner and CEO Curtis Francois, who purchased the facility in 2012.
The St. Louis Speed Festival includes the following events:
- Aug. 19: Go! St. Louis Run at the Raceway. Events include a 5k run/walk, one-mile fun run and beer relay.
- Aug. 20: Cycle the Raceway with Big Shark Bicycle and Cars & Coffee St. Louis.
- Aug. 21: Karting for Kids. The Gateway Karplex will host a corporate karting challenge in which area businesses participate in team competition as a charity fundraiser.
- Aug. 22: The St. Louis Cardinals are hosting an INDYCAR Theme Night presented by GMS at Busch Stadium. Includes fan giveaways, driver appearances and on-field racing between innings.
- Aug. 23: The long-standing American Cancer Society Golf Tournament. Conducted on two courses, including Gateway National, which is adjacent to the speedway.
- Aug. 24: INDYCAR Fan Fest will feature driver appearances, a pit stop competition and hauler parade.
- Aug. 25: Miller Lite Pole Day. Practice and qualifying for the Verizon IndyCar Series, Indy Lights and Pro Mazda Series as well as post-race festivities at the track and nearby Ballpark Village.
- Aug. 26: The St. Louis Speed Festival concludes with the inaugural Verizon IndyCar Series Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline. Support races include the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Series.
For a detailed schedule and list of activities, please visit http://www.gatewaymsp.com/schedule-aug-26-bommarito-500-indycar-race/.
Tickets for the event may be purchased online at gatewaymsp.com/indycar or by calling the GMP ticket office at 618-215-8888. Tickets start at $35. Kids 15 and under are free (general admission) with a paid adult. One and two-day paddock passes that allow access to the infield, IndyCar Paddock and Pit (until 1 hour prior to the start of the race), are also available. In addition, tiered parking passes are available at various price points, including a camping lot. Motorsports fans can stay just minutes away at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton.
Want to race? Bommarito Automotive Group 500 weekend will also offer motorsports enthusiasts the opportunity to race the fastest rental karts in the Midwest – up to 60 miles per hour — at the Gateway Kartplex, the half-mile, 12-turn road course located inside Turns 1 and 2 of the Gateway oval. The all-day karting experience will reward the fastest driver admission to the IndyCar post-race victory lane celebration. The $249 package includes a general admission ticket, premium parking pass, unlimited Karting, food and soft drinks, exclusive Turn 1 viewing providing the closest seats to the action, in addition to the opportunity to win a spot at the post-race celebration.
So buckle up and get to the track. The race is on.