The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the premier event venue within driving distance of most major cities. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people come together to celebrate American ingenuity, teamwork, and competition in the greatest outdoor sporting event in the world. We took a look at the economic impact of the Speedway and how visiting it has changed the way we look at the US economy.
Since it first opened in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has played a pivotal role in the growth of the American economy. A whopping $11.8 billion will be spent on food, drink, and souvenirs alone during the four-day event — that’s over 19% of the event’s total economic impact. But the figure doesn’t stop there.
Each year the Speedway hosts the Indianapolis 500, tens of thousands of people come together to commemorate that the United States of America was founded on the principles of innovation, competition, and most notably, the ability to bounce back after significant hardship. Reflecting this, former professional driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. once said, “When you see a prideful American flag waving, that’s when you know there’s been some type of hardship.”
In 2019, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host the 100th edition of the 500-mile race. Since it first opened, the Speedway has attracted some of the greatest names in motorsport, including auto industry royalty like Henry Ford, who served as chairman of the board from its inception in 1909 until his death in 1922. The famous carmaker’s widow, Lucille, assumed the role of president following Ford’s death in 1922 and held it for the next 51 years. During her time at the helm, the Speedway established itself as an iconic American brand, attracting many celebrities and major figures from across the country.
In its 100 years, the Speedway has seen its fair share of ups and downs, but it has always managed to pull itself back up. In 1969, a devastating flood washed away scores of cars and parts of the facility, including the area where spectators once congregated.
Tourism plays a huge part in the economy of the Indianapolis metropolitan area, contributing over $11.9 billion annually, and the popularity of the Speedway as a tourist destination can be traced back to its inception. In addition to the annual Indy 500 race, the Speedway now hosts other sporting events and music festivals alongside the Indy 500 – including the Brickyard 400, which features NASCAR racing, the Comeback Karting Club, and the Hoosier Hundred – making it a hub for motor sports enthusiasts from around the world. In fact, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the most-visited stadiums in the country, attracting over 4 million visitors a year.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway also serves as a central point of pride for the city and locals have taken to social media to show off their city’s most historic sports venue. Many have posted their photos holding up a sign with the iconic words, “Indy forever,” while others have taken to Twitter to share their excitement about the upcoming 100th edition of the Indy 500 – due to take place that May.
The Role Of The Indy 500
Aside from its obvious importance to the local economy, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway also plays a defining role in the national identity of the United States. For decades, the largest race in North America was a source of pride for Americans across the country. The Indianapolis 500 was first held in 1950 and has continued to this day to celebrate American ingenuity and spirit of innovation. Every year, thousands of people converge on the grounds of the Speedway to take part in what is essentially the Super Bowl of motorsport. For many, the Indy 500 is a highlight of the year, a chance to get away for a few days and forget about the pressures of daily life.
The 100th edition of the Indy 500 will take place at the Speedway on May 24-27. A handful of cars and drivers are already taking part in this year’s race and the excitement is building as the days approach. Tickets for the 100th edition are already on sale and the demand is expected to be huge. Many are looking forward to what will be a fitting climax to a century of American sporting excellence.