MADISON, IL (KTVI) – The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 is Saturday night, August 26. All IndyCar teams and drivers were in Madison, Illinois on Tuesday to test their vehicles at Gateway Motorsports Park.
John Bommarito, president of the Bommarito Automotive Group, said it was a phenomenal and historic day for the St. Louis area.
“We’re honored to be involved with IndyCar and Gateway. We take that honor with responsibility and we will give back to a community that’s been so good to us,” he said.
The 1.25-mile oval track was built for open-wheel racing, but IndyCar racing hasn’t happened at the raceway since 2003. Track owner Curtis Francois has a long-term plan for racing in St. Louis.
“The great part for St. Louis, I think, is to know a major league sport is coming back,” he said. “There is a way to take pride in the city because of what we're doing here; also to enjoy some great racing.”
Although a few drivers have raced on the track before, most haven’t, which is why Tuesday’s testing was so important. In fact, most of the drivers have never even been to St. Louis.
“I’ve heard the best barbecue in the country is here, actually,” said James Hinchcliffe, who races for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. “Charles Kimball gave me a name of a place. Apparently I have to check out Pappy’s! Haven’t made it there yet, but it’s on the list now.”
The economic impact will be tremendous for the area, with thousands of people coming here the week of the race.
“You're going to have a million more on TV, millions more, ok. Watching and giving us a great opportunity to showcase St. Louis and what we have to offer.”
Local race fans have been begging IndyCar to come back and Tuesday marked the beginning of its return.
“The more people that come out and see it, the more they fall in love with it again, so hopefully we can do that in this market as well,” Hinchcliffe said.