The immediate goal is to regenerate interest in May’s events at the speedway, which was Indianapolis’ largest spring gathering place for decades.
Track officials believe the new look and new schedule could increase overall annual attendance at the track by 50 percent by the end of the 2018 season. Estimates put Indy’s current annual attendance figures at about 400,000.
Some of the details, such as qualifying procedures and whether the same pace car will be used for both races, are still being determined. Another possibility is adding an extra award for any driver who wins both Indy races or possibly both races and a pole.
Still, there will be some obstacles.
The inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis will be going head-to-head with all three days of the NFL draft, and it’s possible the NBA’s Indiana Pacers could be hosting playoff games that weekend, too, though that has happened in the past.
Speedway officials aren’t worried.
“I don’t know that’s a concern for us,” Boles said. “Having a points race here at that time, I think will help.”
The start of Indy 500 practice will now be held Sunday, one day later than usual, and less than 24 hours after track workers convert the track from a road course to the traditional 2.5-mile oval. But the long-term goal is to shine a brighter spotlight on the IndyCar Series _ and the month of May.
“As we see our sport changing and road races coming in, there is no question this combination and the utilization of what’s here is we need,” Penske said. “I’ve always wanted to run on the road course here, but, obviously, we couldn’t do that in Formula One.
“People talk about the history here, but we’ve got the Brickyard (400) and I think this will help the schedule and I think this will help get people out here.”