Miles: IMS improvements key to fan fun
It's back to business at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Saturday is opening day. This year, opening day comes after state lawmakers passed a bill that lets the owners of the speedway use millions of tax dollars to make improvements.
May and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are an icon of auto racing. But putting people in the seats for the biggest spectacle in racing has become a much tougher sell over the years.
"There's a lot we need to do to have it keep pace with the best entertainment venues in the country," says Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman Co., owners of the track.
That's why the IMS for the first time in its 100-year history asked state legislators for the ability to borrow tax money over the next 20 years. It’s a request so important, Miles appeared publicly the day before opening day to talk about it.
"The investments will be driven by improvements to the fan experience. We want more and more people to come and maybe be given more opportunities to be out there," says Miles.
Miles says easier access in and out of the track, better seats and more technology is what the money would buy.
IndyCar owner Chip Ganassi joined Miles in underscoring the need to lure more people to IndyCar events.
"I think we don't need to be racing at tracks. We need to be racing at events," says Ganassi.
And Miles says what's good for racing is ultimately good for Indiana.
"It provides more than $500 million a year in economic activity for the state. It employs, just our immediate companies employ 23,000 people and they are really good paying jobs," he says.
Among the improvements considered at IMS are lights for night racing. Team Ganassi driver, Dario Franchitti weighed in saying he's a traditionalist and wouldn't like it for IndyCar. The same goes for Scott Dixon, who told 24-Hour News 8 "don't mess with it man." But Ganassi driver Charlie Kimball says if cars are running, even under the lights, he's ready to drive. WishTV