KANSAS CITY, Kan., July 6 (UPI) -- The Indy Racing League released its 2003 schedule Saturday, the longest in the history of the open-wheel circuit.
The 16-race schedule continues the IRL's philosophy of steady, controlled growth and includes the league's first international race at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. The IRL will replace the CART series at that venue.
The season starts March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and ends Oct. 12 with the Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
"Though we're just over halfway through the 2002 schedule, it's exciting to look ahead to 2003," IRL president and CEO Tony George said. "The lineup of tracks represents the finest motorsports facilities in the country and we are also now in position to take the best form of American open-wheel racing to the league's partners and fans in Japan."
The Japan event is the only one that will not be broadcast on live television. The 87th Indianapolis 500 will be May 25.
Though most of the events remain on their traditional dates, there have been a few changes.
"Some of the league's events have developed traditional dates and we are keeping most events on or near those weekends," IRL vice president of business affairs Ken Ungar said. "Our goal was to build on a schedule, which was the product of years of steady growth. With a few minor tweaks, the 2003 schedule offers even more excitement and value for fans, promoters, sponsors and participants."
The Nazareth, Pa. event moves from an April date to Aug. 24 while the race at California Speedway moves from a spring date to Sept. 21.
Texas Motor Speedway maintains its traditional spots on the schedule, hosting the first race after the Indy 500 and the season finale.
"We've worked really hard on developing a schedule that maintains fan interest throughout the season while not creating unrealistic workloads on teams and officials," IRL vice president of operations Brian Barnhart said. "By achieving those goals with this schedule, the end result is better racing, and that's what we're here to do."