Bigger Payoff In Indy 500

Tuesday, October 2nd 2007, 3:14 pm
By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indianapolis 500 purse will be at least $13.4 million next year, an increase of $2.7 million from this year's record payout and the biggest one-year jump in the race's 91-year history.

The winner also will receive at least $2.5 million, some 42 percent more than the record $1.76 million paid to Buddy Rice in 2004.

Both the total and first-place prizes could be even higher, depending on contingency awards such as winning the pole position and other performance bonuses.

As part of the Indy Racing League's new incentive program for teams and drivers to participate in the entire IndyCar Series, the new purse structure is "significant and appropriate for an event the stature of the Indy 500 commands," Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Joie Chitwood said Tuesday.

Each car in the 500 next year will be guaranteed at least $270,000, with full-time series drivers getting at least $300,000. That's more than $100,000 more than the lowest prize this year. The runner-up could earn at least $1.25 million; third place, $750,000;
fourth, $475,000; and fifth, $375,000, which is more than the winner received each year until 1983.

The IRL also will award at least $1.2 million for each car competing in the entire 16-race season.

"It's our way of providing stability for the teams and improving the business model, hoping to attract new ones," IRL president Brian Barnhart said. "It should benefit everyone, whether it's teams that are well-funded and have all the sponsors,
all the way down through each and every team involved in the series."

The IRL has lost several drivers to Formula One and NASCAR in recent years, including Tony Stewart and Indy winners Jaques Villeneuve and Juan Pablo Montoya. This year's Indy and series champion Dario Franchitti and former winner Sam Hornish Jr. also
are considering switching to NASCAR for next season.

The Daytona 500, NASCAR's biggest race, paid out more than $15.7 million to the 43 starters this year, but the record $1.51 million to winner Kevin Harvick is some $1 million below the anticipated winner's share at Indianapolis next year.

"We feel very good that the purse we offer for the Indy 500, including the winning prize check for next year, is significant and appropriate for an event the stature of the Indy 500 commands," Chitwood said.

Besides the guaranteed prizes at Indy, the top five finishers at each of the other 15 IRL races will also receive bonuses. The overall series champion also will continue receiving a $1 million bonus, and the next four after that will receive lesser bonus amounts. Terry Angstadt, president of the IRL's commercial division, said the extra money will come from increased sponsorship and ticket sales. He said the IRL would announce two new sponsorship categories in the next few weeks.