Located in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the Greatest Place on Earth. For those who have attended racing events there, it’s hard to put into words the sheer excitement of a 500-mile race with over 100,000 people in the crowd. It doesn’t stop there though. The track is also home to the Legends Café, the Midland Brewing Company, and the Lilly Library, which is one of the largest research libraries in the world. While the Indy track retains its charm, it’s not as indestructible as some believe. The property is actually owned by a trust, who bought it back in 2007 for around $16 million. The trust then spent a further $25 million renovating it and creating more parking spaces. At the end of the day, the trust still had to dip into their own pockets to fund the renovations. Even though it’s not a problem for those who attended the grand opening in 2010, it’s still a cause for concern for some. After all, the world is a place full of surprises, including financial meltdowns, and who knows what can happen next.
Greed & Financial Meltdowns
In February this year, IndyCar series champion Josef Newgarden became aware that the property he called home was for sale. Desperate to keep his slice of American racing history, the 46-year-old invested $2.5 million of his own money into a marketing campaign to try and secure the purchase of the track. According to TMZ, Newgarden’s efforts bore fruit, as he was eventually successful in purchasing the rights to the track for himself. While this may not seem like a problem to the general public, those who love racing and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will feel that Newgarden robbed them of their beloved track. It should also be noted that for the last few years, the track has been losing around $2 million a year, which is presumably why Newgarden felt he had to act so quickly to secure the future of the track.
Misalignment Of Interests
Another potential problem for those who love Indy is that the interests of a private citizen can potentially conflict with the interests of the city. Take the case of Carl Icenko, a Russian steel magnate who also happens to be the owner of the Nurburgring. As well as wanting to build a track on the site, he also has plans to convert the surrounding area into a casino. While this may indeed be a win-win for Icenko, it’s not necessarily a good idea. As a casino owner, he’d be responsible for any accidents or incidents that took place at the venue, and that’s something that Indianapolis is unwilling to risk. It’s therefore understandable that they’re not keen for Icenko to build a track on their behalf.
Who Voted For This?
Then there’s the matter of who actually voted for this? In a country whose population is around 50% millennial, why did they choose to have a referendum to reduce the value of the franchise by 90%? The short answer is that it’s highly unlikely that anyone actually voted for this proposal. As well as the fact that it was put to a popular vote, this was largely a product of the 2014 election cycle and the race to replace the term limits imposed by the Hinkle Charter. To be clear, the intention of this amendment was always to allow for future expansion, and the fact that it would allow for a privately owned speedway to be in the community is certainly a good thing. What isn’t a good thing is that the city didn’t actually have to go through with it. It was set in motion due to a desire to appease the NPSA (National Petroleum Stock Association), who were increasingly worried about the city’s declining petroleum industry and related taxes. In a perfect world, a privately owned speedway would have never been a thing, and the city would have been spared the distress of having to reduce the value of their asset by 90% simply to keep the status quo.
The Real Deal
Ultimately, this is all a tempest in a teapot. It’s hardly surprising that the city’s largest industry is in the petroleum and gas field, considering that they provide the essential service of letting engines breathe. It’s also entirely understandable that with the advent of hybrid and electric automobiles, people may have wanted to see the value of their investment stay the same or even increase. The fact remains that the city only has so much money to spend, and they need to prioritize their funding in the best way they can. For those who love Indy and its associated industries, it may be a case of love lost. For now, though, at least there’s still a place to mourn.