The Indy Racing League (IRL) is the governing body of an American open-wheel racing series. The IRL contains two racing sub-series, the IndyCar Series and the Indy Pro Series. The IRL was formed in 1994 when Tony George decided to establish a league to compete with CART. Racing started in 1996 and the league got off to a slow start. However, the IRL began to grow and improve and eventually, in 2000, it began to pull teams away from CART. Later, in 2003, CART declared bankruptcy (it is now known as Champ Car) and this established the IRL as the premier open-wheel racing series in the United States.
The cars used in the IRL are open-wheel, which means that all four wheels and tires are completely exposed; they are not contained within the body of the car as are the cars used in NASCAR. At first, the IRL used only oval tracks in an attempt to distance itself from CART. However, this changed in 2005 when the IRL first incorporated road course races into the schedule. The most popular race on the schedule and maybe the cornerstone of the IRL is the Indianapolis 500. Sometimes referred to as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”, the Indy 500 is one of the oldest and most historic motor racing events in history.
As was mentioned above, the IRL consists of both the IndyCar Series and the Indy Pro Series. The IndyCar Series is the top level and is usually accepted as synonymous with the IRL. The Indy Pro Series was established in 2002 as a developmental league for the IndyCar Series; the series struggled upon conception but recently has seen increased participation and growth.