Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles says the Indy 500 needed another four-time winner after Helio Castroneves’ success at the 105th running of the event.
Last year’s Indy 500 took place behind closed doors, but this year there were around 135,000 fans inside the Speedway to see Castroneves beat Alex Palou and give Meyer Shank Racing its first win. The 46-year-old joins A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr and Rick Mears as the most successful drivers in the history of the event, and Boles believes the race needed another driver to match that feat and join the elite club.
“We’ve got three of them with A.J. and Al and Rick, and A.J.’s brick is in the yard of bricks, we gave Al his and it will go in next week probably, and then we’re going to put in Rick’s sometime this summer,” Boles told RACER. “Now we’ve got a fourth one!
“Unfortunately our four-time winners are getting older, and we needed a new four-time winner because there’s something just really special about those four-time winners, and right now I’m not sure who the next one will be after Helio. So it’s pretty cool to have another one.”
When Castroneves climbed the fence in front of the fans in the main grandstand, Boles said the moment left him reflecting on the hard work that went into trying to put the event on safely.
“I’m really proud of what the team’s done,” he said. “They’re just an incredible group of people who are, like Helio, really passionate about this place, and more importantly, passionate about the fans coming and the way the fans deal with it. So I’m just proud of everybody who’s gone through the crap we’ve gone through the last 15 months to be able to do this.
“And then, proud of the fans. For the fans to stick with us, and this many of them to come out on a day when so many of them might have decided to stay home, and they’re still here. It’s great.”
While Boles is full of pride at how this year’s 500 panned out, he says the true understanding of its success will only come with monitoring of its impact over the coming weeks.
“I think a lot of folks were watching and they wanted to know ‘Can you pull this off? Can this many people come to an event? Will this many people come to an event?’ so I think that was good,” he said. “And just the vibe and the attitude and the way everybody feels I think so far it has gone really, really well.
“We’ve got to look back at the numbers and make sure everyone stays healthy but I think we had a successful weekend.”