After taking ownership of the NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway in January of 2020, Roger Penske and his Penske Entertainment team fashioned an immediate plan to begin renovating the ageing areas within IMS.
As RACER’s Robin Miller wrote in July of 2020, the efforts included “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.”
More work continued in 2021, and with most of the key projects having been completed, Penske says the plan for 2022 is to continue working down his expansive IMS to-do list.
“Our budget for this year is about $8 million,” Penske told RACER. “And that has to do with maintenance [capital expenses] and also things that we’re trying to enhance. We’re working on where customers come in at Gate 9, changing the ticket booths around there to make it easier. We’re looking at what we can do to add some more capacity for motor homes in the right areas and the support for them.
“We’re looking at buying some additional property. A big thing we’re going to fix is the curbs for the NASCAR race. We’re going to (do a) major repaint of the Tower Terrace grandstands coming off a Turn 4 on the inside; we’re painting the whole back infrastructure underneath all the way down to the Pagoda. That’s a huge job. Doing all the stairwells that all the structures, that’s a big one. We’ve put all-new carpet in the media center. At the golf course, we’re putting in four new bridges. So when you start adding it up, there’s a lot going on.”
Another ongoing area of development under Penske’s stewardship is a reconnection between the Speedway and the auto industry. As one of North America’s largest auto dealership owners, Penske’s relationships with domestic and international brands have already benefitted IMS as major names like Chevrolet, Ferrari, and Porsche are among the manufacturers who rent the facility and make regular use of the IMS road course for vehicle development and customer-related activities.
And with another project in the works that will see a new building erected where an infield scoring tower has stood for decades, Penske will give another manufacturer a semi-regular home within IMS.
“We’re knocking down the old octagon between Turns 3 and 4 and putting up a new building there which will be used by us during race days,” Penske said. “And when we’re not racing, BMW will use it to promote their products to their customers, dealers and employees.
“What it does is it gives us the opportunity to have something we can use for them, and we also can use it for the 500 because it’s got a big deck on top of for viewing. We’ve got a lot of the major manufacturers that want to be at Indianapolis to work with us and use the track.”