IRL: Indy500: Grand Old Speedway Shows its Resilience

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, May 14, 2000 - If you had taken a look at the interior of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway just last Friday you might have said, "No Way, they'll never get it ready." But literally every worker and employee, contractors and ...

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, May 14, 2000 - If you had taken a look at the interior of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway just last Friday you might have said, "No Way, they'll never get it ready." But literally every worker and employee, contractors and speedway people together, followed Superintendent of Construction, Kevin Forbes, instructions and the place was in apple pie order for opening weekend.

No dirt, no mud, plenty of green grass, and generous walking space greeted visitors and fans. This writer was at Daytona and Talladega for their openers and you knew the place was new. Indy is new on the inside, completely new. But you had to look hard for any substantive evidence that it wasn't ready. It was and it was a treat to see.

Forbes' emphasis on fan friendliness is evident everywhere. Wide, paved walking paths take one from parking to stands with easy strides. The largest parking area is now in turn three with shuttle trams running back to the museum and gasoline alley.

The most significant change is around the oval garage area where fans are able to stroll up to a second floor balcony and look down into the garages, in fact they're able to see more of garage activity than persons on foot inside with a garage pass.

Gone is all the trash underfoot. A small Army of workers with "ECOLOGY" on their vests move about sweeping any foreign matter into dust pans. It's a fact, the place is nearly as clean as Disneyland.

Also gone are all the bleachers in turn 3. They have been replaced by grassed spectator mounds all the way through the turn. With a little imagination one could see that the same mounds will serve for the Formula One race some future day when and if the turn 3 stadium is incorporated into the F-1 race course.

Another item missing are the old inefficient concession stands that wasted so much of fans precious time while satisfying hunger and thirst.

They may not be replaced but are supplemented with kiosks and mobile carts throughout the spectator midway.

On the front stretch the temporary bleachers for the oval races are located about twenty feet farther away than their predecessors. Fans can walk about in comfort and have a good look at all the pit activity.

Sunday was Special Olympics Day and hundreds of those special people, young and old, were brought in for a day they look forward to so much. One child was unable to run but he was carried in the race by Arie Luyendyk. His cries of delight were enough to melt the heart of the most hardened witness. Afterward there was a big meal of barbeque served by the Jug Eckert cooks who make feeding large crowds look so easy.

It has been evident for several years now that general admissions are being de-emphasized at Indianapolis. It started with the NASCAR race and is slowly becoming part of the 500 scene. The speedway would like to see everyone in a seat and not have an infield snake pit. It is clear that the infield will be available to general admissions but they will be looking from grassed mounds. So kids, start saving for reserved seats so that later in life you can enjoy the race and party elsewhere.

Len in Indy

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Arie Luyendyk