Before a car turned a wheel on Friday to open the 2020 season at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Roger Penske had already spent millions of dollars upgrading and beautifying the 111-year-old racetrack.
From widening and re-paving Georgetown Road, adding 30 new video boards, refurbishing the restrooms and concession stands, adding five miles of new fencing, giving the victory podium a new look power washing everything that doesn’t move to adding Verizon 5G internet service, Penske’s staff and hired guns have been non-stop the past four months.
“My goal has always been to give the fans a first-class experience and make this the world-class facility it is,” said The Captain, who is hoping to run the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23. “We’ve made a lot of improvements and there’s more to come.”
Of the 400,000 square feet of asphalt that have been laid, none are more impressive than on Georgetown Road. The bottleneck behind the main straightaway grandstands before and after the race was downright dangerous with the crush of people but now everyone has room to breathe and walk.
And R.P. paid for the Georgetown Road repave.
The other noticeable fan enhancements are the 30 LED video boards that have been erected all along the grandstands on the main straightaway and the 100-foot screen mounted behind Pagoda Plaza.
“Fans told us they could see the pit action sitting on the straightaway but it was hard to follow who was leading or what place their favorite driver was in so we wanted to improve that experience,” said Penske.
The 4,000 tons of paint are instantly noticeable when people first see the restroom and concession stand upgrades, and there is new cleanliness to Gasoline Alley, the IMS Museum and second-turn suites thanks to the power washing and painting.
Penske also installed 75 metal picnic tables for fan comfort — along with the needed upgrade in internet service.
“Roger is so detail-oriented and doesn’t miss a thing,” said John Lewis, Senior VP Facility Development at IMS. “He’s also the hardest-working person I’ve ever met and he’s constantly looking for ways to make things better for fans and competitors. I’d say he’s off to a good start.”