IRL: Indy500: Fans to See Historic Speedway Improvements

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 11, 2000 - It is only appropriate that fans of the most historic race in the world will be the first to benefit from the largest construction program in the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The improvement...

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 11, 2000 - It is only appropriate that fans of the most historic race in the world will be the first to benefit from the largest construction program in the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The improvement projects that have turned part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway into a construction area for 17 months are occurring as the facility prepares for the inaugural United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sept. 24. But fans of the Indianapolis 500 will see that many facilities improvements were made with them in mind.

Opening Day for Indianapolis 500 practice is May 13. The 84th running of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" is at noon (EDT) May 28. The most striking changes that will be complete or nearing completion for the 84th Indianapolis 500 are the 36 Formula One garages and 12 suites sitting atop them, the Pagoda control tower, the media center and new Tower Terrace grandstands.

"The new garages situated along the main straightaway were purpose-built for Formula One," said Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George. "But virtually every other aspect of our improvements have been undertaken for the benefit of all our guests, including fans, media, teams and sponsors. It is our goal to make every person attending the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis feel they are at a venue that is maintained with their interests and comfort in mind."

The Tower Terrace grandstands located north of the Pagoda tower have been extended by 13 rows, replacing some seating for ticket holders who had to be relocated due to construction of the F1 garages. Beneath the stands are new concessions areas.

Additional temporary seating is in place in front of the F1 garages in the same location the Tower Terrace grandstands once stood. Behind the F1 garages are a first-aid station, safety office and concessions stands.

Another public venue constructed behind the F1 garages is Legends Row. This two-story building contains public restrooms and a second-floor viewing area that will give fans a birds-eye view of the garage area. The north half of this building (near Gasoline Alley, the entrance to the Garage Area) will be operational in time for the Indianapolis 500.

The Tunnel 6 project is wrapping up just north of the Pagoda tower, and will make access to and from the north end of the main straightaway more convenient. Tunnel 6 has been widened and lengthened, thus providing spectators walking underneath the tunnel with additional walking space. In addition, fans walking along the infield side of the main straightaway will no longer need to take a detour around the tunnel.

Two major grandstands located on the south end of the venue, Stand A and the South Vista, were completely renovated and given new aluminum seating during the off-season.

George also pointed out that some improvements along the main straightaway and in the infield of the 2.5-mile oval will help rekindle the rich history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was completed nearly 91 years ago in August 1909.

"Despite the changes, the main straightaway's appearance is very reminiscent of the way it has appeared for decades," said George. "And with the addition of the new Pagoda control tower, we have successfully combined our history from early in the 20th century with state-of-the-art technology."

From 1913 to 1956, a control tower of the Oriental Pagoda design stood over the Speedway's main straightaway. The first Pagoda, constructed of wood, burned in 1925 and was replaced by a second constructed in time for the 1926 Indianapolis 500. The second wooden pagoda was razed in 1956 in favor of the steel and glass Master Control Tower that stood from 1957 to 1998.

The new Pagoda tower, which is 153 feet tall (the equivalent of a 13-story building), houses state-of-the-art facilities for race control, safety, timing and scoring and radio broadcast booths.

Although it will not be completed for the Indianapolis 500, the tower plaza area, located directly behind the Pagoda tower, will be a focal point for spectators who wish to take a break from viewing the on-track action. When completed, the plaza will be fully landscaped with grass and a brick walkway shaped like the oval. A 36-inch strip of bricks will run from the track's start/finish line, underneath the Pagoda tower and into the middle of the plaza. The area will be an ideal location for spectators and families to relax.

For the 84th Indianapolis 500, the plaza will be temporarily paved, with a large video screen showing on-track action and a message board in place.

Due to the construction of the 2.606-mile road course, general public parking in the Speedway's infield is very limited.

Speedway officials recommend that spectators should plan to park in areas outside the oval. The Speedway has four large parking lots to the north, west and south of the oval (convenient to all four turns and the main straightaway). Pre-pay options for reserved parking in some lots is available. Call the Speedway ticket office at (317) 484-6704 for information.

-IMS/IRL-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony George