The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the most famous racetracks in the world. It’s always been a popular place for fans to show their support for their favorite drivers, and it’s still one of the most iconic sports venues in America. As impressive as the track’s past is, it doesn’t compare to its present day.
The first Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a modest track located in the middle of a football field. The grandstands were made of dirt and had no roof. Because of its unassuming appearance, the track was originally referred to as the ‘Indianapolis Speedway.’ However, in 1913, the track was completely rebuilt and the name was officially changed to honor its most prestigious race, the Indianapolis 500. The track held its first official practice session on September 13, 1916 and held its first race on May 30, 1917. The track was originally built to accommodate a variety of car makers, with the main objective being to promote motor vehicles. The track was not designed with the goal of having a specific number of laps, because races at the time were typically about 160 miles or so. That meant that most people didn’t need to be there for very long.
With the exception of the Indy 500, the track has always been affiliated with motorsport, holding various events across different racing platforms. In addition to the Indy 500, the track has held races for the Indianapolis 500 mile race, the Indy Racing League, the United States Auto Club, the World Sportscar Championship, and the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. In total, the track has hosted over 500 different races and is still considered by many to be the world’s greatest sporting venue. The track is owned and operated by the Speedway Motorsports Authority.
How Does the Speedway Handle the Operations of the Track?
The Speedway has two separate revenue streams. The first is from admissions and parking, which brings in around $125 million per year. The second is from merchandise sales, which earns the track around $60 million per year. In addition, the track’s corporate partners contribute around $75 million per year, while ticket sales from the 750-member grandstands bring in around $30 million per year. Finally, the track’s hospitality partner contributes around $50 million per year.
All of these sources of income help the Speedway maintain one of the largest payrolls in North America. Most notably, the track has about 450 full-time employees, which is around 150 more than it needs to run the course. In fact, the payroll is so large that it made Forbes’ list of the Worlds 15 Largest Private Employers.
Where Do I Sit Versus How Do I Race?
If you’ve ever been to the track, you’ll know that it’s a unique experience. The seating is quite distinct from the rest of the grandstands at other racetracks. There are no seats behind the yellow line, as you’ll find at other venues. Instead, tickets for the 500 Festival Parade are sold in batches of 100 and give fans a closer look at the cars and drivers as they parade around the track before the start of the race. The best vantage point is from the ‘bleacher hill’ at the north end of the track. From there, fans can get a perfect view of the entire track.
The configuration is very similar to what you’d find at a European grand prix. It was inspired by Italian motorsport importer Ferruccio Buschetto, who was a regular at the Indianapolis 500 from the 1970s until his death in 1996. Buschetto would often sit in the same spot, which is now known as the ‘Ferruccio Buschetto Historic Grandstand.’
What Is the Most Popular Race To Attend At the Speedway?
Over the years, the Indianapolis 500 has consistently been one of the most popular races to attend at the Speedway. Over the past five years, the average attendance has been about 70,000 per year. However, in 2020, that number is expected to dive to around 55,000 due to the pandemic.
The popularity of the 500 stems from a variety of factors. For one, the race is a classic and one of the most prestigious events on the motorsport calendar. In addition, many people still consider the 500 to be the pinnacle of grand prix racing, especially since it’s the last race of the season and the champions are crowned. It also helps that the race is run nearly a month before the end of the year, which gives fans more time to plan their trips. Finally, the track is a mecca for motorcyclists, with motocross events taking place on a regular basis. It’s no wonder nearly half of all 500 Festival Parade attendees are there to cheer on their favorite bikes.
It’s been a while since the last Indy 500 was run. However, given its reputation and iconic status, it’ll be one of the first races that fans will want to see in 2021. In fact, the track’s hospitality partner is already taking bookings for next year’s race even though it’s still 12 months away.