Penske Unveils Major Plans To Boost IMS & Indy 500

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Penske Corp. Completes
The Indianapolis 500 has been moved to August as the result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Al Steinberg photo)

INDIANAPOLIS – A wide-ranging, multifaceted plan to boost and strengthen the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge and Indianapolis Motor Speedway was unveiled Thursday.

The plan features significant improvements and financial investments. The enhancements were revealed exactly 100 days from the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 24. They include:

– The largest purse in Indianapolis 500 history

– Improvements to the Indianapolis 500 qualifying format and television schedule

– New sponsors investing long term in the Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the NTT IndyCar Series

– A multimillion-dollar investment in the fan experience at IMS

Since Jan. 6, following the change in ownership, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway team moved quickly to implement significant upgrades to the GMR Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 and the Big Machine Vodka 400 during Fourth of July weekend.

“This is the Racing Capital of the World,” said Indianapolis Motor Speedway and NTT IndyCar Series owner Roger Penske. “It is on par with some of the most historic sporting institutions in this nation and across the globe, from Churchill Downs to Augusta National. Today, we’re announcing a meaningful investment in our fan experience that will produce rapid results. It’s part of a long-term plan to ensure the legendary status of the Speedway continues to grow and evolve for generations to come.

“I am very excited about the enhancements to qualifying weekend, the largest-ever 500 purse, new sponsors and the significant investments we are making to the IndyCar Series and to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

The event purse for the 104th Indianapolis 500 will be the largest in the history of the event. The purse will grow by $2 million to more than $15 million, boosting the prize pool for NTT IndyCar Series teams and drivers.

Qualifying weekend for the 104th Indianapolis 500 – Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17 – will feature a variety of changes to its format and broadcast to create even more memories and drama.

Multiple attempts will return to the Last Row Shootout, expanding it to 75 minutes. Previous versions of the Shootout featured one attempt per car.

A boost in turbocharger level will see speeds climb this year during the Indianapolis 500 qualifying sessions. Turbocharger boost will increase horsepower by 45 horsepower this year.

An expanded weekend television schedule will ensure NBC televises coverage of qualifications on both Saturday and Sunday, with total network exposure increasing over 2019. Full weekend broadcast details will be released soon.

The NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway will add six new major sponsors in 2020. Pennzoil, Verizon, Snap-on Tools, DEX Imaging, Road & Track Magazine and Global Medical Response will make significant investments in the racing series and Speedway.

The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016 saw large investments made to the Speedway. Beginning with this year’s GMR Grand Prix, fans will experience many new upgrades to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. These enhancements are all projects that will be finished before gates open, with several additional opportunities under consideration for future seasons.

Technology upgrades are a major component of this plan. More than 30 additional large-screen video boards will be added, including 24 along the paddock seating. The paddock screens will bring race action and vital information to an additional 25,000 fans. In addition, all seven large infield big-screen monitors will receive a running order addition.

Another addition is the IMS Media Wall. This video board, measuring 100 feet wide by 20 feet tall, will be installed at the base of the Pagoda facing the Pagoda Plaza as a cornerstone of a plan to transform the popular gathering area for fans. It will also provide data-driven race insights to fans from NTT.

Verizon and their 5G Ultra Wideband network will transform the iconic speedway into a first of its kind technology-led entertainment complex. Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be the first motorsports facility with commercial 5G service that will enhance both the consumer experience and track operations.

Infrastructure improvements will be noticeable inside and outside of the fabled, 110-year-old facility.

Pedestrian traffic on Georgetown Road will be widened by two lanes to make ingress and egress easier for more than half of the venue’s race day customers.

More than 125 restrooms are being renovated inside Indianapolis Motor Speedway. New pavement will be added to the Parcel B lot near the IMS Main Gate to improve the parking experience and create a cleaner look for the front door of the facility. Approximately three miles of fencing will be added to the entire grounds.

The winning driver and team of the Indianapolis 500, Grand Prix and Brickyard 400 will receive higher honors, as the winner’s car will be elevated to the same level as the victory podium after each race. This will give fans a better vantage point for pictures and social media sharing of the most prestigious victory lane in global motorsports.

The atmosphere of the massive facility also will be enhanced through detail-oriented improvements throughout Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Night light signage will be installed over gates one and two, while Indianapolis Motor Speedway will assume responsibility for the beautification project along Crawfordsville Road. Fans will notice fresh paint and new signage on more than 50 concession stands inside Indianapolis Motor Speedway, picnic tables added throughout the grounds for more gathering space for families and friends, and the placement of more than 230 racing-themed flags around the facility and Crawfordsville Road.

All aspects of this fan experience investment plan are underway and will be completed before Indianapolis Motor Speedway gates open for the Month of May on Friday, May 8.