SPEEDWAY TO SHOW ITS NEW FACE AT 84TH INDIANAPOLIS 500 INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 2, 1999 -- Fans attending the 84th Indianapolis 500 on May 28, 2000, will see a dramatic new face to the inside of the main straightaway at the Indianapolis Motor...
SPEEDWAY TO SHOW ITS NEW FACE AT 84TH INDIANAPOLIS 500
INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 2, 1999 -- Fans attending the 84th Indianapolis 500 on May 28, 2000, will see a dramatic new face to the inside of the main straightaway at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "What we'll have in place next May is what the fans will see for many Mays now," said Kevin Forbes, IMS director of engineering and construction. This includes new Formula One garages and suites, a new Pagoda tower at the start-finish line and a new press building, along with other facilities. Despite the impressive new structures, there will be very few changes in seating arrangements for the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 NASCAR Winston Cup event, Forbes said. Temporary seating, just as it was at the 1999 races, will be installed where stands were removed from the south section of the Tower Terrace and also in front of the suites. Eleven months from the first Formula One United States Grand Prix race on Sept. 24, 2000, at the Speedway - and the first in the U.S. since March 10, 1991 at Phoenix - construction on the multimillion dollar project is progressing right on schedule, Forbes said. "I think everything is at the stage we hoped it would be," he said. The recent dry weather has been conducive to steady construction. Forbes said. Only severe weather days during the winter will slow the daily work tasks. The 36 garages and 12 suites atop them have taken clear shape and are approximately half finished. They stretch north from near the start of the Turn 1 on the oval toward the new Pagoda. It was necessary to demolish the 30-year-old media building and the accessory building behind it so they could be set back enough to allow entry for the F1 cars next to the normal pit lane. Work has begun on this paved pit modification. It will have no affect on the other races in regard to the various teams' pit activities. Actually, the new garages and suites will be used at the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 - but not by race cars or teams. Fans will find concession stands, retail souvenir shops, and first aid and lost-and-found facilities available in these garages. The suites will be made available for rental to sponsor groups. Then after the Brickyard 400 in August, the temporary spectator stands will be removed and the garages converted to their racing usage for F1 teams. The Pagoda - there were two wooden ones in the early years of the 90-year-old facility - has taken shape. Windows are being installed for the enclosed part of the modern, Japanese-style structure in front of the start-finish line. The new, state-of-the-art pressroom will rise north of it. A podium for the appearance of the top three finishers in the F1 race - beware of spraying champagne - also will be constructed in this area. In Indy Racing and stock-car racing, only the champion appears in the winner's circle. In the past, the car and driver have been elevated on a lift carrying other team members, track officials and television interviewers. The winner at Indy drinks milk, a 60-year tradition. The tunnel under the track near midpoint of the front straightaway is being widened and extended to allow easier passageway for fans. Demolition of the old tunnel is complete, but work on the new one probably won't start until December, Forbes said. Even the Pace Cars - usually there are two -- will have a new home next year. For a number of years, the Pace Cars were housed in the first building under the Tower Terrace grandstands south of the Gasoline Alley entrance to the pits. They now will have their own "garage" in a new building. The 2.61-mile (4.2-kilometer) road course is completed but adjunct work continues. It now appears that an F1 inspection team will not visit the facility until March 2000, Forbes said.