Indy Racing League
The Indy Racing League (IRL) is an American-based open-wheel auto racing sanctioning body. The League sanctions three racing series. The premier IZOD IndyCar Series (ICS), the two developmental series; Firestone Indy Lights and the U.S. F2000 National Championship. ICS is sometimes considered the same as the Indy Racing League. The Indy Racing League's centerpiece race is the Indianapolis 500.
On September 10, 2010, the IRL announced that effective January 1, 2011, the Indy Racing League will simply be known as IndyCar.
Sanctioned series change
IZOD IndyCar Series change
The IndyCar Series is the series name for the premier series sanctioned by the IRL. The name started being used in 2003. Izod was announced as the IndyCar Series title sponsor in 2010. The deal is expected to run for at least five years.
Support series change
Firestone Indy Lights is the development series for the Izod Indycar series. It started in 2002, as the IRL Infiniti Pro Series. USF2000 is a series the IRL started sanctioning in 2010. It started in 1991 and ended in 2006. It then restarted in 2010.
Indy car name change
Indy car is sometimes used as a name for any open-wheel auto racing in the United States. The Indy car name derived as a result of the link to the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (often called to as the Indy 500).
Beginning in 1980, the term Indy car was used for the race cars in CART races. CART had become the main governing body for open-wheel racing in the United States. The Indianapolis 500 was not controlled by CART. It remained sanctioned by USAC. CART recognized the Indy 500 on its schedule, and awarded points for finishers in the race from 1980 to 1995 despite not sanctioning it. The two entities operated separately, but used the same equipment.
In 1992, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway tradmarked the IndyCar. They licensed CART to use the name. CART renamed its championship the IndyCar World Series. The name "CART" was no longer used. The series did not want fans to think they were go-karts.
Split with CART change
The IRL was founded in 1994 by Tony George and began racing in 1996. George designed the IRL as a lower-cost open-wheel alternative to CART. CART was dominated by a few rich multi-car teams, much like Formula One. The split between IRL and CART was very unfriendly. Both series greatly suffered because of it.
Joining with Champ Car change
In February 2008, Indy Racing League founder and CEO Tony George and owners of the Champ Car World Series completed an agreement to join the sport for 2008. The Champ Car World Series was suspended except for the Long Beach Grand Prix. Many of the former Champ Car teams moved to the IndyCar Series using equipment provided by the League.
Driver safety change
Driver safety has also been a major concern. A number of drivers injured, mostly in the early years of the series. Several of those injuries were serious or fatal. Unlike road racing, the higher speed and lack of runoff areas on oval tracks, allowed for less margin for error. Car design was a leading cause of early injuries.The series made improvements to chassis design to address those safety concerns.
The IRL was also the first race series to adopt the new SAFER barrier soft wall safety system. First at the Indianapolis 500 and now installed at almost all major oval racing circuits.
A Honda engine for 2007 onwards.