Big News For Small Teams

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The small, low-budget teams that compete in the Indy Racing League finally heard some good financial news Friday.

The IRL announced a new program called Leaders Circle that will make it cheaper to compete in the series on a full-time basis. Members of the Leaders Circle will receive discounts and price breaks on equipment if they compete in the 15-race season. Twenty-four teams will be eligible for the Leaders Circle.

One of the biggest benefits is an allotment of Firestone tires and support from the tire maker.

“Since Tony George began the Indy Racing League, the league has worked hard to control costs and to provide opportunity for teams to be competitive, regardless of the size of their budgets,” said Brian Barnhart, IRL vice president of operations. “We have negotiated unprecedented contracts with engine, chassis and transmission suppliers, providing controlled costs and development for our competitors over the first six seasons. Now we are pleased to add tires and other services to this list.

“Because of our new, multiyear, exclusive agreement with Firestone, we have the opportunity to make Firestone support available to 24 cars for all Indy Racing League events, including the Indianapolis 500.

"We have chosen to use the Firestone package as the foundation for the Indy Racing League Leaders Circle, whose membership will consist of up to 24 cars that compete for the entire 15-race season.”

Leaders Circle members will also receive the following.

  • Discounted entry fees, which increased to $15,000 for the Indianapolis 500 and $7,000 per IRL race this season

  • A 25 percent discount on fuel.

  • Use of the mandated electronics package, valued at $30,000, at no cost. This package includes a rev limiter, an onboard yellow-light system, a wire harness, an accident data recorder, a camera mount and shroud, and a timing and scoring transmitter and shroud.

  • Use of Lincoln Electric welding equipment and supplies, valued at $15,000, at no cost.

    Leaders Circle members will be announced in early February. Cars and teams not eligible for the program will be required to pay all race entry fees and full price for fuel, tires and the electronics package.
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