Grand Prix of Miami (Indycar)

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The Grand Prix of Miami refers to an intermittent series of American open wheel races held in South Florida dating back to 1926. AAA held one board track race in 1926, and then the facility was destroyed by a hurricane. The popular CART IndyCar World Series debuted in the Miami area in the mid-1980s with a street circuit at Tamiami Park, then returned to race at Bicentennial Park in 1995.

From 1996 to 2010, Homestead-Miami Speedway hosted the Indy cars on the 1.5-mile oval. The CART series participated from 1996 to 2000, then the event was switched to the Indy Racing League for 2001–2010.

An additional Champ Car race was held for a brief time at Bayfront Park from 2002 to 2003.

Fulford-Miami Speedway[edit]

In 1925, Carl Fisher (who built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909) was developing Miami Beach and envisioned the Miami area as the winter auto racing capital of the world. Fisher built Fulford–Miami Speedway, the world's fastest 1-1/4-mile board track in nearby Fulford. The outstanding features of the track were the 50 degree banked turns, which required a speed of at least 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) to keep the cars from sliding down into the infield.

On February 22, 1926, the first Championship Car race in South Florida took place at the facility. A crowd of 20,000 spectators saw Peter DePaolo win the 300-mile (480-km) race, the first and only major race ever held at the speedway.[1]

Later in the year, the track was destroyed in the hurricane of September 17, 1926. The site of the oval is now occupied by the Presidential Country Club.[citation needed]

Tamiami Park[edit]

Tamiami Park
Location University Park, Florida, USA
Opened 1985
Closed 1988
Surface Asphalt/Concrete
Length 1.784 mi (2.870 km)
Turns 10
Lap record 0:55.062 (Danny Sullivan, Penske PC17-Chevrolet, 1987, IndyCar[2])

Modern American open wheel racing in the Miami area dates back to 1985. In that year, the CART series began racing on a temporary street circuit in Tamiami Park a small outdoor sports facility in the nearby suburb of University Park. The race lasted through 1988, and on two occasions (1987 and 1988) included the CART Marlboro Challenge all star race.

Tamiami Park Street Circuit.

In each of the fourth years it was held, it served as the CART season finale. The inaugural event in 1985 featured a famous championship battle between the father-and-son duo of Al Unser, Sr. and Al Unser, Jr. With Danny Sullivan leading in the waning laps, Unser, Jr. was running third, and for the moment, mathematically was going to clinch the championship points title. His father Al Sr. was charging in 5th place, and needed to move up to 4th in order to clinch the title for himself and Penske Racing. Despite personal misgivings about potentially robbing his own son of a championship, Al Sr. passed 4th place Roberto Moreno with only a handful of laps remaining, and held on to the checkered flag. By finishing 4th, Unser, Sr. beat his son in the championship standings by one point.

Rain plagued the race three out of four years, and after the 1988 running, CART officials announced they were not returning.[3] The primary reason was that CART wanted to change the date of the race to either September or to the spring. But promoter Ralph Sanchez did not want to move the race to September due to hurricane season, and did not want to move the race to the spring because it would create a conflict with the IMSA race he also promoted.

Though some subtle remains of the circuit are recognizable as of the early 2010s, a significant portion of the course layout was razed for the construction of FIU Stadium in 1994.

Race winners[edit]

Season Date Race name Winning Driver Chassis Engine Team
1985 November 10 Beatrice Indy Challenge United States Danny Sullivan March Cosworth Penske Racing
1986 November 9 Nissan Indy Challenge United States Al Unser, Jr. Lola Cosworth Shierson Racing
1987 November 1 Nissan Indy Challenge United States Michael Andretti March Cosworth Kraco Racing
1988 November 6 Nissan Indy Challenge United States Al Unser, Jr. March Chevrolet Galles Racing

Marlboro Challenge winners[edit]

Season Date Driver Chassis Engine Team
1987 October 31 United States Bobby Rahal Lola Cosworth Truesports
1988 November 5 United States Michael Andretti Lola Cosworth Kraco Racing

American Racing Series (Indy Lights) history[edit]

Season Date Winning Driver
1986 November 9 Italy Fabrizio Barbazza
1987 November 1 United States Jeff Andretti
1988 November 6 Republic of Ireland Tommy Byrne

Bicentennial Park[edit]

Bicentennial Park
Location Miami, Florida, USA
Opened 1986
Closed 1995
Surface Asphalt/Concrete
Length 1.873 mi (3.014 km)
Turns 10

In 1995, race promoter Ralph Sanchez brought open wheel racing back to Miami. In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, Sanchez began redeveloping a devastated area of Homestead, Florida, into the Homestead Motorsports Complex. From 1983 to 1994, Sanchez had promoted very successful IMSA and Trans-Am races at Bayfront Park and Bicentennial Park along Biscayne Bay.

Sanchez revived the Bicentennial Park circuit for one season as a CART race, while Homestead was still under construction. The Bicentennial Park circuit was a semi-permanent circuit which featured purpose-built roads in the park area, along with a temporary segment taking it out on Biscayne Boulevard near the entrance to the Port of Miami.

For the 1995 event, the circuit was run in the opposite direction as it had previously been contested. This was to prevent drivers who had raced there in previous years from having an experience advantage. The race was won by Jacques Villeneuve, and was the 1995 CART season opener.

Less than three years after the lone CART race in 1995, the layout of the Bicentennial Park racing circuit was partially razed for construction of American Airlines Arena. In the early 2010s, the remaining vestiges of the circuit were completely demolished due to the construction of the new Science Museum and Art Museum on the site.

Race winners[edit]

Season Date Race name Winning Driver Chassis Engine Team
1995 March 5 Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Canada Jacques Villeneuve Reynard Ford-Cosworth Team Green

Indy Lights[edit]

Season Date Winning Driver
1995 March 5 Canada Greg Moore

Atlantic Championship[edit]

Season Date Winning Driver
1995 March 4 Canada Patrick Carpentier

Homestead–Miami Speedway[edit]

Grand Prix of Miami (Indycar)
Homestead-Miami Speedway track map--Speedway.svg
IndyCar Series
Venue Homestead-Miami Speedway
First race 1996
First ICS race 2001
Last race 2010
Distance 300 miles (482.803 km)
Laps 200
Previous names CART Champ Car
Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota (1995–2000)

IRL/IndyCar
Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami presented by 123.com Americatel (2001)
20th Anniversary Miami Grand Prix (2002)
Toyota Indy 300 (2003–2005)
Toyota Indy 300 Presented by XM Satellite Radio (2006)
XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 (2007)
GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 (2008)
Firestone Indy 300 (2009)
Cafés do Brasil Indy 300 (2010)

The Homestead–Miami Indy 300 was an IndyCar race held at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida from 1996 to 2010.

In 1996, after construction was complete at Homestead Motorsports Complex, CART debuted at 1.5-mile oval with a 200-mile (320 km) event. At the time the layout was a flat, rectangular "mini-Indy" configuration. In 1997, the race was lengthened to 225 miles (362 km), and the configuration was reconstructed to be a traditional oval shape. For each of its years through 2000, the race served as the CART series season opener. CART also used the facility as their venue for "spring training" (off-season testing).

In 2001, the event switched to an IRL Indycar Series event. It was also lengthened to 300 miles (480 km). From 2002 to 2008, the race served as the IndyCar Series season opener. In 2007–2008, the race was held as a night race. After a schedule reorganization, the race was moved to become the season finale for 2009 and 2010 IndyCar Series season. The 2009 race went without a caution, and set a race record average speed of 201.420 mph. The 2010 race was the last IndyCar event at the track in the foreseeable future.

On March 26, 2006 driver Paul Dana suffered fatal injuries in the warmup session before the race when he was involved in a high-speed collision with Ed Carpenter at over 215 mph (346 km/h). The race went on as scheduled, but Dana's teammates withdrew from the race.

In 2007–2010, the IndyCar Series race was part of the Speed Jam, a twin-race combo weekend with the Rolex Sports Car Series.

Race winners[edit]

Season Date Driver Team Chassis Engine Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
(mph)
Report
Laps Miles (km)
CART Champ Car history
1996 March 3 United States Jimmy Vasser Chip Ganassi Racing Reynard Honda 133 199.5 (321.064) 1:51:23 109.399 Report
1997 March 2 United States Michael Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Swift Ford-Cosworth 147 220.5 (354.86) 1:38:45 135.478 Report
1998 March 15 United States Michael Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Swift Ford-Cosworth 150 225 (362.102) 1:33:39 144.339 Report
1999 March 21 Canada Greg Moore Forsythe Racing Reynard Mercedes 150 225 (362.102) 1:38:54 136.671 Report
2000 March 26 Italy Max Papis Team Rahal Reynard Ford-Cosworth 150 225 (362.102) 1:22:01 164.788 Report
IRL IndyCar Series history
2001 April 8 United States Sam Hornish, Jr. Panther Racing Dallara Oldsmobile 200 300 (482.803) 2:01:12 148.508 Report
2002 March 2 United States Sam Hornish, Jr. Panther Racing Dallara Chevrolet 200 300 (482.803) 2:08:16 140.325 Report
2003 March 2 New Zealand Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing G-Force Toyota 200 300 (482.803) 1:57:06 153.71 Report
2004 February 29 United States Sam Hornish, Jr. Team Penske Dallara Toyota 200 300 (482.803) 1:57:56 151.094 Report
2005 March 6 United Kingdom Dan Wheldon Andretti Green Racing Dallara Honda 200 300 (482.803) 2:05:28 142.033 Report
2006 March 26 United Kingdom Dan Wheldon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda 200 300 (482.803) 1:46:14 167.73 Report
2007 March 24 United Kingdom Dan Wheldon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda 200 300 (482.803) 1:48:07 164.825 Report
2008 March 29 New Zealand Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda 200 300 (482.803) 1:44:04 171.248 Report
2009 October 10 United Kingdom Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda 200 300 (482.803) 1:28:28 201.42 Report
2010 October 2 New Zealand Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda 200 300 (482.803) 1:52:09 158.905 Report