IndyCar’s 2024 schedule packs two big surprises
This Monday, IndyCar announced its 17-race schedule for the 2024 season. Despite sanctioning the same number of races as it did for 2023, America’s premier open-wheel series has a few surprises on the slate.
Perhaps the biggest shock is its return to the Milwaukee Mile, a track that the series has not visited since 2015. The relatively flat oval stands as the oldest operating motor speedway in the world: It has hosted races since 1903. IndyCar first visited the track in 1939. Since then, greats like Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, and the Unsers have mastered the mile multiple times.
The Milwaukee date bumps Indycar’s visit to Texas Motor Speedway off the 2024 schedule, a track that has thrilled with high speeds and close finishes but has struggled to attract open-wheel fans. Wisconsin may deliver more fans considering its proximity to Indiana, the home state of the series.
If that wasn’t enough for cheeseheads, the Wisconsin weekend is a double-header, meaning two full shows. “There is such a great tradition and history of INDYCAR racing at the Milwaukee Mile, and we are excited to build on that legacy with a Labor Day weekend NTT IndyCar Series doubleheader beginning in 2024,” said Roger Penske, chairman of Penske Corporation.
On the flip side of the coin, Thermal Club in Palm Springs, California, will hold the first-ever One-Million Dollar Challenge Sunday on March 24. The exhibition is comprised of heat races and a final 12-car battle for a million-dollar prize. According to IndyCar, members of The Thermal Club will be embedded with race teams and drivers. We’re curious to see what that entails.
The final big change is a flip-flop between Nashville and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and the Nashville Street Course. Previously the Monterey road course was the last track that stood between drivers and the IndyCar season championship. Now, Laguna is bumped to June; in its place is the Nashville Street Course, which will serve as the final round. A revised 2.17-mile, seven-turn circuit in Nashville will likely influence the outcome. Lookout, Broadway.
Gems such as Detroit’s street course and the Iowa double-header remain untouched. And, of course, Memorial Day weekend will host the greatest race in motorsports, the Indianapolis 500.
Since “The Captain” Roger Penske purchased the series in 2020, IndyCar seems to be riding a wave of momentum. The 2023 slate was NBC Sports’ most-watched IndyCar season on record. According to the series, ticket sales for the Indy 500 are on pace to exceed those of 2023, a year that attracted the second-largest crowd the race had seen in more than two decades.
The 2024 season fires off on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, March 10. Will you be there?