IRL: Indy500: Modern new flagstand unveiled

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 9, 2001 - A new flagstand at the start-finish line of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will improve sight lines for fans sitting across from pit road at the three largest motorsports events in the world. The new...

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 9, 2001 - A new flagstand at the start-finish line of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will improve sight lines for fans sitting across from pit road at the three largest motorsports events in the world.

The new stand, designed by the Speedway's Engineering Department and constructed by Jack K. Elrod Construction of Indianapolis, has a smaller base and uses less space than the old stand.

"The flagstand is one of the more notable structures at the Speedway being that it is right at the start-finish line, and it draws a lot of attention at the beginning of the race and at the finish," said Kevin Forbes, director of engineering and construction for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "We didn't feel that the old stand reflected the direction the Speedway was going with reestablishing the values in upgrading our facilities."

The old stand, which had been used by flagmen such as Pat Vidan, Duane Sweeney, Doyle Ford and current Indy Racing League starter Bryan Howard, was constructed in 1974 and had been modified several times since.

The new stand, unlike any other flagstand in the world, weighs approximately 10,000 pounds and is made of heavy structural galvanized steel shapes used in buildings, aluminum flooring and galvanized steel cables. The height of the starter's platform is 20 feet, 6 inches, and the total height of the stand is 30 feet. The new structure took three weeks to fabricate and one day to erect.

"We had no preconceived notions," Forbes said. "We tried to think out of the box a little bit, and we thought Indy ought to have something unique. We tried to blend the architectural style of the Pagoda with the grace of a cable-stayed bridge.

"The benefit of all of this is that we minimized structures, and this improves the view for the fans."

Even at 220 mph, Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers notice the new stand.

"It looks very modern," said Buddy Lazier, defending Northern Light Series champion and 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner. "I think it goes well with the pagoda. I wouldn't mind standing up on the deck."

The green flag will fly from the new stand for the first time in a race at noon (EDT) May 27 to start the 85th Indianapolis 500.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Lazier