IRL shifts towards road courses

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The 2010 IRL IndyCar Series will feature more road course events than ovals for the first time in the championship’s history.

The addition of a street venue in Brazil, yet to be decided, and Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama brings the number of road and street courses on the calendar to nine, while the disappearance of the Milwaukee and Richmond fixtures means there will be just seven oval races.

This alteration in emphasis has occurred over just six seasons.

The first road courses didn’t appear on the IRL calendar until 2005, when St Petersburg, Sears Point and Watkins Glen all joined the schedule.

The move mimics the shift to road courses by CART after its split with USAC for the 1979 season. There was just one road track, Watkins Glen, in the first year, but by 1984 half the dates were on road courses. The last oval on the schedule, Milwaukee, disappeared in the penultimate season before Champ Car, as CART had become, was taken over by the IRL series.

The new calendar was described by Indy Racing League commercial boss Terry Angstadt as “a good and balanced schedule”.

The disappearance of the Milwaukee Mile from the calendar means the world’s oldest permanent circuit will not be part of a premier North American single-seater championship for the first time since World War II. The track hosted USAC championship events from 1946 to 1979, CART races from 1980 until 2006 and then IRL rounds for the past three seasons.