Bommarito Automotive Group 500
The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline is an IndyCar Series race held at Gateway Motorsports Park. The event was first held as a CART series race from 1997 to 2000, initially on Memorial Day weekend. From 2001 to 2003, it was held as an Indy Racing League event. After a hiatus of over a decade, the race returned in 2017 as part of the unified IndyCar Series. The next annual Bommarito Automotive Group 500 race is scheduled for August 23rd-24th, 2019.
|Venue||Gateway Motorsports Park|
|First ICS race||2001|
|Distance||500 km (310 mi)|
|Previous names||Motorola 300 (1997–2000)|
Gateway Indy 250 (2001–2002)
Emerson Indy 250 (2003)
|Most wins (driver)||no repeat winners|
|Most wins (team)||Penske Racing (4)|
Shortly after the oval track was constructed, the inaugural Motorola 300 was held on Saturday May 24, 1997 as part of the CART series. It was scheduled for the day before the Indianapolis 500 of the rival Indy Racing League. Rather than scheduling a race directly opposite the Indy 500 (as they had done in 1996 with the U.S. 500), CART scheduled Gateway the day before to serve as their Memorial Day weekend open-wheel alternative without direct conflict. On one instance, a couple of drivers actually competed in both events in the same weekend. The race was held on Memorial Day weekend for three seasons.
For the 2000 season, the race was moved off of Memorial Day weekend and scheduled for September. Track management did not want the race to be scheduled the same weekend as the Indy 500, as it was splitting the fanbase and affecting gate attendance. With the two races in neighboring states, fans generally chose to travel to the Indy 500 for the weekend instead. In addition, CART officials decided to leave Memorial Day weekend open to allow their teams the opportunity to cross over and compete at Indianapolis if they desired.
In 2001, the race was dropped from the CART series schedule, and switched alliances to the Indy Racing League. The distance was shortened, and the race became known as the Gateway Indy 250. The event suffered from continually declining attendance. The event was dropped altogether after 2003.
After new management at the facility in 2012, rumors began to circulate about reviving the event with the now-unified IndyCar Series. In 2015, the track was approved as a test facility, and in 2017, the race returned to the schedule.
In January 2017, an unprecedented relationship was formed with Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois. A multi-year agreement was designed with Gateway Motorsports Park Owner and CEO Curtis Francois and Bommarito Automotive Group President, John Bommarito. This agreement and sponsorship, for the first time in many years, brought back excitement and enthusiasm for world class racing in the St. Louis Region. The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 was announced at the 2017 St. Louis Auto Show. The inaugural INDYCAR Series Event, with the Bommarito Automotive Group as the title sponsor, brought to Gateway Motorsports Park all of the cars and stars of the Indianapolis 500. It also brought America’s best drivers as well as competitors from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Recently the partnership was renewed through 2021.
|Season||Date||Driver||Team||Chassis||Engine||Race Distance||Race Time||Average Speed
|CART World Series|
|1997||May 24||Paul Tracy||Penske Racing||Penske||Mercedes-Benz-Ilmor||236||299.72 (482.249)*||2:37:54||113.884||Report|
|1998||May 23||Alex Zanardi||Chip Ganassi Racing||Reynard||Honda||236||299.72 (482.249)*||2:23:02||125.725||Report|
|1999||May 29||Michael Andretti||Newman/Haas Racing||Swift||Ford-Cosworth||236||299.72 (482.249)*||2:25:35||123.513||Report|
|2000||September 17||Juan Pablo Montoya||Chip Ganassi Racing||Lola||Toyota||236||299.72 (482.249)*||1:55:38||155.519||Report|
|2001||August 26||Al Unser Jr.||Galles Racing||G-Force||Oldsmobile||200||250 (402.336)||1:49:59||133.379||Report|
|2002||August 25||Gil de Ferran||Penske Racing||Dallara||Chevrolet||200||250 (402.336)||1:44:23||143.711||Report|
|2003||August 10||Hélio Castroneves||Penske Racing||Dallara||Toyota||200||250 (402.336)||1:50:53||135.286||Report|
|2017||August 26||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||Dallara||Chevrolet||248||310 (498.897)||2:13:22||139.465||Report|
|2018||August 25||Will Power||Team Penske||Dallara||Chevrolet||248||310 (498.897)||1:59:30||155.644||Report|
- CART measured the track length to 1.27 miles (2.04 km).
Support race winnersEdit
CART Fed Ex Championship seriesEdit
- 1997: The inaugural race was held on Saturday May 24, 1997, the day before the IRL's Indy 500. The CART series held the race as their Memorial Day weekend event, replacing the U.S. 500. A crowd of 48,500 was in attendance despite threatening skies and intermittent rain. Series rookie Dario Franchitti dropped out while leading with a broken transmission, putting Patrick Carpentier into the lead on lap 210 (of 236). Carpentier attempted to stretch his fuel over the final 60 laps, and win his first career race, and the first win for car owner Tony Bettenhausen. But in the final ten laps, Carpentier had to slow down to conserve fuel. Paul Tracy began charging to the front, passing Alex Zanardi for second with four laps to go, and set his sights on the leader. Coming out of turn four on lap 234, Tracy made a slingshot pass to take the lead with two laps to and went on to win.
- 1998: For the second year in a row, the race was held the day before the Indy 500. CART officials mandated the use of the smaller "speedway" style front wings, in an effort to slow the cars down. But some drivers complained it made the track too difficult to drive. Rain plagued practice and qualifying on Thursday and Friday, but a large crowd of 49,500 arrived on race day. On the first lap, Dario Franchitti spun and crashed in turn three. His Team Green teammate Paul Tracy became collected in the crash as well. Michael Andretti led 133 laps, but the race came down to the final round of pit stops. A caution on lap 175 sent all of the leaders to the pits for fuel. Alex Zanardi had a faster pit stop, putting him out front with 61 laps to go. Andretti chased down Zanardi, closing to within 0.2 seconds of the lead, but was unable to make a challenge for the lead. Zanardi won the race, his second career oval win, and first victory on a short oval.
- 1999: For the third and final time, the race was held on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, the day before the Indy 500. On the final round of pit stops on lap 200 (of 236), Michael Andretti took on fuel only, vaulting him from fifth place to first place. Looking for his first career victory, Hélio Castroneves, with fresher tires closed to within 0.37 seconds on lap 207. Andretti, however, held off the challenge and broke a 23-race winless streak. The win came thirty years after his father Mario won the Indy 500. With the open wheel "split" still ongoing, Andretti was still absent from Indy, and the race win on Memorial Day weekend was bittersweet to the younger Andretti. Two drivers, Robby Gordon and Roberto Moreno, did "double duty" for the weekend. Both drivers raced at Gateway on Saturday, then competed at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. Moreno finished 4th at Gateway but dropped out at Indianapolis with transmission failure. Gordon crashed and finished last at Gateway. At Indy the next day, he ran out of fuel while leading with just over one lap to go. After two years of strong attendance, the crowd estimate for 1999 was down to about 35,000-40,000.
- 2000: After three years on Memorial Day weekend, the race was moved to September. With only three races remaining in the CART championship, the race results shuffled the points standings. Michael Andretti led 121 laps, lapping the entire field except for second place Juan Pablo Montoya. However, Andretti blew his engine on lap 197 (of 236) handing the lead and the win to Montoya. Andretti lost an opportunity to take the points lead. Paul Tracy moved up to second place in the closing laps, but he suffered a broken gearbox on lap 209, which sent him into the wall. It would be the final CART series race at Gateway, and the attendance dropped to 25,000 spectators.
Indy Racing League / IndyCar SeriesEdit
- 2001: The race switched to the Indy Racing League for 2001, and the distance was changed to 200 laps (250 miles). Al Unser Jr. battled Sam Hornish Jr. over most of the race, and the win came down to fuel mileage. Donnie Beechler crashed on lap 188, bringing out a caution, and Hornish pitted for fuel. Unser stayed out and picked up the lead. When the green came back out, he managed to stretch his fuel to the finish and won his 33rd career Indy car race. Mark Dismore also gambled on fuel, earning him a second place. Hornish settled for third.
- 2002: Penske teammates Gil de Ferran and Hélio Castroneves combined to lead 166 of the 200 laps, running 1-2 much of the day. With 17 laps to go, Castroneves was leading and trying to hold off de Ferran as the two drivers were making their way through slower traffic. Castroneves became held up by the lapped car of Airton Daré, allowing de Ferran to jump past on the outside and grab the lead - and ultimately the victory. Alex Barron was the only other driver who challenged up front. After leading 29 laps, Barron drifted high in turn one during a restart on lap 152, dropping him from 1st to 5th. Barron managed to recover and finished third.
- 2003: Hélio Castroneves snapped a 21-race winless streak (dating back to the 2002 Indy 500) and climbed the catchfence to celebrate. The race, however, was marred by a pit lane incident that injured a crew member. Scott Dixon was leading the race when his gearbox failed on lap 159. Castroneves took over the lead, and despite losing his dashboard electronics, managed to hold off Tony Kanaan for the victory. Entering the pit area on lap 40, Bryan Herta touched wheels with Scott Dixon, causing Herta's car to become slightly airborne, but not damaged. Moments later as he was leaving the pits, Herta made contact again, this time with Buddy Lazier. Herta's car was sent sliding into the pit of Al Unser Jr. Left-rear tire changer Anton Julian was struck by Herta's car, knocking him unconscious. Julian suffered a cut on his head, a concussion, and a knee injury. This would be the final IndyCar race at Gateway for more than a decade. Facing declining attendance, the race was dropped from the schedule for 2004.
- 2017: After a 14-year absence, the IndyCar Series returned to Gateway for a night race in 2017. In front of a packed front stretch grandstand, the race started under caution when Tony Kanaan lost control of his car before the green flag and backed into the turn 2 wall. The race stayed under yellow after briefly going green on lap 5, when Will Power slid into the wall after being passed for the lead, taking out Ed Carpenter and Takuma Sato in the process. After the race finally restarted on lap 17, the three remaining Team Penske drivers led most of evening, with Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, and Josef Newgarden combining to lead 235 out of the 248 laps. Newgarden led 170 laps on his own, but was running in second place to teammate Pagenaud due to the latter's quicker yellow-flag pit stop on lap 206. At the resumption of green flag racing on lap 211, the top four was made of championship contenders, with Pagenaud leading Newgarden, Scott Dixon, and Castroneves. On lap 218, Newgarden made a bonzai pass on his teammate in turn 1, bumping Pagenaud into the high groove in the process. Dixon pounced on the back straightaway, moving Pagenaud to third, and they held that order all the way to the checkered flag, with Castroneves fourth and A.J. Foyt Racing's Conor Daly a season-best fifth and career-best on an oval. It was Newgarden's third win in the past four races, and his fourth win of the year overall. Pagenaud had some choice words about his teammate's race-winning maneuver, saying, "he doesn't have any respect for me and he's lucky it was me or we'd have both been in the wall," while team owner Roger Penske applauded the move.
- IndyCar race coming to Gateway next year
- "Bommarito 500 Recap". www.bommarito.com. Retrieved 2019-03-12.
- "Motorola 300 will be to September in 2000". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. November 6, 1999. p. 27. Retrieved August 30, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "2000 Schedule Leaves Indy 500 Weekend Open". Motorsport.com. November 11, 1999. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
- "Bommarito History". www.bommarito.com. Retrieved 2019-03-12.
- Gateway International Raceway at champcarstats.com
- Cavin, Curt (May 25, 1997). "Tracy extends his reign in the rain (Part 1)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 25. Retrieved August 25, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Cavin, Curt (May 25, 1997). "Tracy extends his reign in the rain (Part 2)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 28. Retrieved August 25, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Miller, Robin (May 25, 1997). "Tough decision nets 2nd-place finish". The Indianapolis Star. p. 28. Retrieved August 25, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Cavin, Curt (May 24, 1998). "Zanardi wins Motorola 300". The Indianapolis Star. p. 38. Retrieved August 25, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Cavin, Curt (May 30, 1999). "Win at 300 tastes bittersweet". The Indianapolis Star. p. 46. Retrieved August 25, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Coats, Bill (May 30, 1999). "Andretti's "gamble" pays off". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. 61. Retrieved August 30, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Wheatley, Tom (May 30, 1999). "Hogan team has "monkey off our back" after coming in with runner-up finish". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. 70. Retrieved August 30, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Miller, Robin (September 18, 2000). "Montoya wins on heels of Andretti's engine woes". The Indianapolis Star. p. 35. Retrieved August 30, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Cavin, Curt (August 27, 2001). "Skill, luck push Unser to victory (Part 1)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 23. Retrieved August 30, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Cavin, Curt (August 27, 2001). "Skill, luck push Unser to victory (Part 2)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 29. Retrieved August 30, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Cavin, Curt (August 27, 2001). "De Ferran slips by Castroneves for win (Part 1)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 23. Retrieved August 30, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Cavin, Curt (August 27, 2001). "De Ferran slips by Castronves for win (Part 2)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 29. Retrieved August 30, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Cavin, Curt (August 11, 2003). "Helio hasn't lost his touch (Part 1)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 25. Retrieved August 31, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Cavin, Curt (August 11, 2003). "Helio hasn't lost his touch (Part 2)". The Indianapolis Star. p. 34. Retrieved August 31, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Cavin, Curt (August 11, 2003). "Pit accident rattles crew, drivers". The Indianapolis Star. p. 34. Retrieved August 31, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Official Box Score for the Bommarito Auto Group 500" (PDF). Retrieved August 29, 2017.
- "2017 Indycar Schedule and Results". Retrieved August 29, 2017.
- Miller, Robin (2017-08-26). "Pagenaud Incensed by Newgarden's Move". Racer.com. Retrieved 2011-08-29.