IndyCar’s Future Looks Bright In Milwaukee

ABC Supply Co. has been a sponsor of A.J. Foyt Racing for almost 10 years. (Al Steinberg Photo)
ABC Supply Co. has been a sponsor of A.J. Foyt Racing for almost 10 years. (Al Steinberg Photo)
ABC Supply Co. has been a sponsor of A.J. Foyt Racing for almost 10 years. (Al Steinberg Photo)

WEST ALLIS, Wis. — An immensely popular track by its competitors, with history deeper than Indianapolis, is staying on the IndyCar schedule for at least another two seasons.

Andretti Sports Marketing announced Wednesday morning it reached an agreement with ABC Supply Company to sponsor the IndyCar race at the Milwaukee Mile for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The event will be called the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest.

The dates will be Aug. 16-17 next season.

“We’re very excited to sponsor the race in our home state of Wisconsin at the historic Milwaukee Mile,” said Diane Hendricks, ABC Supply Founder and Chairman of the Board. “We have a large number of associates and customers in the Wisconsin area and are happy for the opportunity to support the oldest and longest operating motor speedway in the world.

“As a sponsor of A.J. Foyt Racing for almost 10 years, we’re thrilled to play a small part in open-wheel racing in Wisconsin.”

ABC Supply Co. Inc. is the largest wholesale distributor of roofing in the United States and is one of the nation’s largest distributors of siding, windows and other exterior building products.

The full IndyCar schedule is scheduled to be released at 8 p.m. (ET) Oct. 17 on the NBC Sports Network.

The Milwaukee Mile got back onto the schedule in 2011 after a one-year hiatus. The track has gone wholesale changes as it tries to recover from poor business management, which left the track’s future in jeopardy.

Dario Franchitti won the race in 2011. The last two years have seen the event run and promoted by Andretti Sports Marketing, led by five-time Milwaukee winner Michael Andretti. Ryan Hunter-Reay has won the last two races at the Mile, the first to win back-to-back races at the Mile since Tony Kanaan (2006 and 2007).

Andretti is also a five-time winning car owner at the Mile.

“We love Milwaukee; I can tell you that,” Andretti said after Hunter-Reay’s victory in June. “As a team, it was great. As a driver, it was great for me. Now as a promoter, it’s great.

“I’m excited about how today went obviously went with the win, but also with the people that showed up to support the race. I think it’s a great day. I think a lot of people had a lot of fun out there with the Indy festival. Hopefully we can get this figured out and get this thing to stay on the map.”

The race weekend will also feature the Indy Lights Series and the Pro Mazda Championship Series, along with an infield midway, beer garden and live music. Tickets go on sale Nov. 13.

“Racing at the Milwaukee Mile, the world’s longest running race track, is always exciting,” said Kevin Healy, managing director for Andretti Sports Marketing. “We’re thrilled to announce the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest, a new title sponsor and a new date to continue the tradition of IndyCar racing at the Mile.”

Andretti was also part of one of the most iconic races in IndyCar history, which was at The Milwaukee Mile. In 1991, Andretti finished ahead of is cousin, John Andretti, and his father, Mario Andretti. It was the first time in worldwide racing history three members from the same family finished a race 1-2-3. A poster of the three celebrating the moment still hangs inside the media center at the track.

The Milwaukee Mile, which is located on the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds just west of Milwaukee, opened in 1903, six years before the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In addition to auto racing, dirt and asphalt, the Mile also hosted Green Bay Packers games from 1934-1951. The 1939 NFL Championship was played at the Mile.

The track also hosted the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series from 1995-2009 and the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 1984 and 1985, then again from 1993-2009. And for the past two years, it has hosted an ARCA Midwest Tour special, the Howie Lettow 150, attracted about 100 late-model stock car drivers from around the country, including NASCAR’s best.

Pat Flaherty won the first USAC race run at The Milwaukee on June 10, 1956.

Babe Stapp won a AAA Series race Aug. 27, 1939.

From 1983 until 2009, the race at The Milwaukee Mile was run the weekend after the Indianapolis 500. At that time, the popularity of the track and for the IndyCar Series was high. But a change in management forced IndyCar to pull the track off the schedule for 2010.

Many drivers have said Milwaukee is a track that has the speed of an oval, but drives like a road course, especially with its long, looping and flat turns. Side-by-side racing is also a frequent occurrence.

“The Milwaukee Mile always gives a fantastic race,” Helio Castroneves said in June.