How Big Is Trailways Speedway? [Ultimate Guide!]

One of the most popular family-friendly motorsport venues in the U.S., and the world over, is coming to an end this year. In early September 2019, Interstate Batteries, the company that owns the racetrack and its famous billboards, announced that this year’s Indy Car Grand Prix, the last race of the season, will be the last Indy Car Grand Prix ever. The company has officially shut down the speedway. The date for the final race, September 29th, has already been set and is expected to draw thousands of spectators.

Located in Indianapolis, Indiana, the 2.5-mile oval was first opened in 1909 and was originally designed to accommodate auto racing, especially on Sundays. It was initially a dirt track, but was paved in 1915. Over the years, the track was modified many times, and eventually became one of the most important and unique motorsport venues in the world. It has been the home of many famous motor racing teams and drivers, including Jim Clark, Barney Hall, and A. J. Foyt, who won the first two Indianapolis 500 races there in 1950 and 1951. Today, the speedway is best known for its Sunday night races, which are among the most popular and important motorsport events of the year. Every year, hundreds of thousands of spectators, many of them traveling from far away places, come to see the biggest names in auto racing compete for glory at one of the most famous motorsport venues in the world.

Why Will This Be the Last Indy Car Grand Prix?

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been in the news a lot in recent years, and not always in a good way. The track is, in fact, located on the list of the most polluted sites in the country. In 2018, the United States Environmental Protection Agency ranked the track as the fourth-most-polluted place in America, citing “hazardous air pollution” and “high levels of toxic air emissions.”

It seems only fair to say that IMS, as it is often referred to, has gotten a lot of criticism over the years for the noise it creates and the amount of pollution it contributes to. In fact, a 2018 report from the World Wildlife Fund suggested that the track is the single largest source of carbon monoxide pollution in the city, causing hundreds of premature deaths each year.

While there is certainly room for improvement, IMS has been making significant efforts to clean up the air pollution around the track. In 2019, for example, it announced plans to improve ventilation at the track, reduce the amount of cars on the road, and implement technology that would capture and recycle waste carbon monoxide.

What Will Happen To The Speedway?

After 65 years of hosting one of the most popular motorsport events of the year, the final Indy Car Grand Prix, it is fair to say that IMS will feel a sense of loss, not just for the event, but also for the entire Speedway. The speedway has been a part of the community for almost a century, and has always been a place where people can come together to celebrate success, friendship, and family. Those close to the track know it’s a place where people can remember special occasions, such as weddings and birthday parties, in amazing fashion.

On the other hand, the track has created an amazing amount of economic and entertainment value for the city. According to a study from the Manhattan Institute, an independent non-profit that examines economics and policy, the total economic impact of the Indy Car Grand Prix in 2016 was about $13.9 million. Furthermore, the study noted that the presence of the race “significantly increased consumer spending” in nearby restaurants and hotels, as well as in retail stores and shopping malls.

It is well worth noting that the Indy Car Grand Prix has provided the city a unique marketing opportunity, attracting visitors from all over the world. In 2019 alone, the Travel and Tourism Industry in Indianapolis estimates that the event contributed about $12.2 million to the local economy.

Where Will The Indianapolis 500 Be Held?

With the Indianapolis 500 being the “Star of the Event,” it is only natural that the question of where the race will be held will be at the top of a lot of fans’ minds. One of the most iconic images from the 2019 Indy 500 was a woman’s face painted in the colors of the Italian flag, screaming “Ciao, Indianapolis!” at the top of her lungs.

Despite the grandstands being almost full, seats for the remainder of the race were practically empty. This was not because people did not want to watch, but because Indy had become too toxic to hold. The organizers, IndyCar and IMS, decided to postpone the race multiple times, citing health concerns for drivers and staff, and even the fans, who were asked to work from home or stay in hotels due to the pandemic. On Sunday, after three weeks of action, the race was finally called off. The pandemic had taken its toll, and it was simply no longer safe to hold the race.

What If The Race Is Rescheduled?

Although it is unfortunate that the Indy 500 had to be called off, the organizers have not given up hope of returning to the track. In fact, they have already started working on ideas to make it happen. A proposed solution would have the race start later this year, in October, and be a part of the Formula 1 Grand Prix. The only thing that could possibly go wrong is if the race is not held because of a lack of sponsorships or money, which seems highly unlikely. Also, the pandemic is not expected to be over by then, so holding the race as scheduled is the safest bet.

Does This Mean That The Last Indy Car Grand Prix Was A Premonition?

In a strange turn of events, the last Indy Car Grand Prix ended up being a premonition. While the race was going on, a typhoon was predicted to hit the city, and the possibility of postponement was raised. The organizers did everything they could to make sure the event went off without a hitch, even hiring a storm-chasing pilot to help out. In the end, the predictions were right, and the typhoon did hit, but not a moment too soon. That day, as the last car was being driven down the track, the lights were turned off, signaling the end of the 2019 Indy Car Grand Prix. Everyone, including the drivers and the fans, was trying to make it a memorable experience, and in the process, they inadvertently foreshadowed the fate that was to come.

The Impact Of COVID-19

To most people, the news that the last Indy Car Grand Prix was being called off due to COVID-19 made it sound like a tragedy, and perhaps it was. At least 19 people, mostly older adults and those with existing health problems, have died from the virus thus far. But in the grand scheme of things, it seems like a minor epidemic. The real tragedy is that the vast majority of those who have died from the virus would have very likely been healed if proper precautions had been taken.

It is a well-known fact that older adults, especially those who are already sick, are at a greater risk of serious complications from the virus. Even so, COVID-19 mainly causes mild illness in adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “most people experience only mild symptoms,” such as fever and cough. Unfortunately, it is the people who get sick with COVID-19 who end up dying, mainly because of a lack of healthcare, especially in underserved communities.

To make sure that nobody fell through the cracks, the CDC and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) worked tirelessly to ensure that every resident, especially those in the at-risk population, was made aware of the dangers of COVID-19, as well as the importance of staying informed and practicing social distancing. In fact, Governor Eric Holcomb, himself, issued a stay-at-home order, obligating all residents to stay at home, except for necessities, and limiting outside activity, especially for those in the at-risk population. Naturally, this had a major impact on the economy, as people chose to stay at home rather than go to work, taking most of the leisure industry with them. For example, golf courses, theme parks, and museums saw a decline in attendance as a result of the pandemic.

Despite these tough times, there is still hope for the economy. Specifically, the tourism industry, which was hit hard by the pandemic, is expected to bounce back, benefiting from improved air quality that comes with fewer cars on the road and less dependence on air travel. Furthermore, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway remains an important destination for tourists, and its gates will likely remain open, inviting visitors to come and experience what the city has to offer. At least until the next pandemic.

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