The Road to Indy 2021 schedules were released on Thursday and the big omission on them was the lack of a race on Memorial Day weekend for the Indy Lights Series at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Freedom 100 is no more.
In a rare and shocking development, we won’t see that thrilling 40 Lap race next year. This will be the first time since 2003 that the Freedom 100 won’t run as the ’03 inaugural race was won by Ed Carpenter.
In fact, that was the first and only time that the race wasn’t conducted on Indy 500 race weekend. That race was on Bump Day with the Saturday scheduled date that year being rained out early. They completed the race on Bump Day that Sunday, a week before the ‘500.
From 2004 on, the race was always held on Memorial Day weekend. The 2004 race was held the day before the ‘500 with 2005 on, the race always being held on Carb Day. Rain feel during Carb Day practice in 2008 and prompted the Freedom 100 to be moved to Saturday. Every other year since 2005, the race was held on Carb Day itself.
Now, it’s no more. It’s a shame too.
The Freedom 100 was a highlight of the year. The last several finishes have been photo finishes with some of the closest finishes in IMS history occurring here.
Oliver Askew beat Ryan Norman by just .0067-seconds in 2019. Colton Herta beat Pato O’Ward by .028-seconds in 2018. There were 20 lead changes in that 40 lap race. The 2017 race was won by Matheus Leist by just .776 seconds over Aaron Telitz. How can we forget the 2016 race that saw Dean Stoneman win by only .002-seconds over Ed Jones. 2015’s race ended under caution, but in 2014, Gabby Chaves beat Matthew Brabham by only .005-seconds. The most thrilling though occurred in 2013 when four cars crossed the yard of bricks inches from one another. Peter Dempsey won a thriller by only .0026-seconds. Chaves, Sage Karam, Carlos Munoz and Zach Veach were 2-3-4-5 that day.
Now, that race is gone.
Indy Lights is furthering the shift like INDYCAR is away from ovals. Out of their entire schedule in 2021, only one race (World Wide Technology Raceway) is on an oval. 10 events, 20 races, one oval.
This also means that the Indianapolis 500 will be the only oval race on the famed 2.5-mile track in 2021. The Brickyard 400 has moved to the road course, as has the Xfinity Series race. That means for the first time since 1993, the ‘500 is it on the IMS oval.