Brief History of the Grand Prix of Cleveland – includes video of full race …

Posted: December 20, 2015 in Uncategorized


The Grand Prix of Cleveland

was an IndyCar auto race, that had been held annually at BURKE LAKEFRONT AIRPORT since 1982. It was originally known as the Budweiser-Cleveland 500. The race became the Cleveland Grand Prix in 1984, and changed again to the Budweiser-Cleveland 500 in 1985. Subsequent names for the event corresponded with the primary sponsors: In 2002, the race was referred to as the “Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U.S. Bank.” The last race run was in 2007. For 26 years, the high-speed, open-wheel cars of IndyCar thrilled fans at the Grand Prix of Cleveland, a Northeast Ohio tradition. The Grand Prix of Cleveland was promoted by Mi-Jack Promotions. Key man in that organization is Mike Lanigan.

Since Bobby Rahal won the inaugural race as a rookie in 1982, some of the greatest names in auto racing have taken the checkered flag at the famous course at Burke Lakefront Airport, on the shores of Lake Erie. In addition to racing legends such as Al Unser, Jr., Mario Andretti, and Emerson Fittipaldi, the list of champions includes Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais

Click here — to see who’s won the 26 races at Cleveland

1995 Budweiser Grand Prix of Cleveland

The 12th race of the 1995 season was held on the temporary circuit at Burke Lakefront Airport on July 23rd and saw spirited battles at the front of the field between Gil de Ferran, Michael Andretti and Robby Gordon. The non-stop action of the race had analyst Sam Posey called it “the greatest race of the year.”


The concept of a local race in the style of the Indianapolis 500 was conceived by promoter Charles K. Newcomb in 1981 and was then approved by CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc.) The first race, with its $200,000 prize money, cost over $1 million to stage, with funds coming from the gate, a major sponsor, and grants from auto accessory companies.

The course, planned with the permission of the FAA, was designed to test both straight speed and turns. Two parallel airport runways (3 times wider than the Indy track) were linked to permit 125 laps on a 2.48 mile course with 12 turns–8 to the right and 4 to the left.

The track record as of 2002 was 147.512 mph, set by Gil de Ferran on July 22, 1995.  Although the unique character of the course made the race popular with drivers, July temperatures magnified the heat in the cars, and it was shortened to 200 mi. in 1984, although by 1995 the race had been expanded to 213 miles, consisting of 90 laps on a 10-turn, 2.37 mile course. Bleachers and support facilities for the 60,000 daily race fans are constructed on the south side of the track to permit a full view of the course during the 3-day event.

The race became part of the PPG IndyCar World Series in the 1990s, as Medic Drug, Dairy Mart, and the INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT GROUP (IMG) became primary sponsors, with IMG administrating the race’s marketing. In September 1999, IMG Motorsports and CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc.) agreed to a new three-year deal, thus keeping the race in Cleveland through at least 2002. Recent first-place winners were Patrick Carpentier (2002), Dario Franchitti (2001), Roberto Moreno (2000) and Juan Montoya (1999). The Grand Prix was also affiliated with Cleveland Grand Prix Charities, Incorporated, established in 1982 as the Cleveland 500 Foundation.

Comments are closed.