Although it was just testing, it was kind of neat to see Indy Cars on our track the last three days as part of Indy Lights, a developmental automobile racing series sanctioned by IndyCar. It is to the IRL what the XFINITY Series is to the Sprint Cup series.
As we're sure many of you remember, our track was first built to accommodate Indy Cars. In fact, we hosted an IRL/CART race each year from 1996-2010. The late Dan Wheldon (2005-07) and Sam Hornish Jr. (2001-02, 2004) hold the distinction of having won the most such races with three victories apiece.
Ralph Sanchez, the founder and visionary for Homestead-Miami Speedway, started the Grand Prix of Miami in 1983, and following Hurricane Andrew in August 1992, saw an opportunity to not only build a venue which could host many races, but also revitalize the City of Homestead, which had been decimated by the Category 5 Hurricane. That vision came to fruition in November 1995 when Homestead-Miami Speedway hosted its first race, the Jiffy Lube Miami 300 in the XFINITY Series.
In 2003, Homestead-Miami Speedway underwent a major renovation as the most technologically advanced track reconfiguration project of its time took place. A $12 million re-banking project transformed the track from a flat 6 degrees to a computer-designed 18-20 degree variable banking in all four turns. This is one of the primary reasons why many of the drivers in NASCAR still consider our track the best 1.5-mile on the circuit.