Boles Talks Tackling Lagging Brickyard Attendance

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Doug Boles is president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Doug Boles is president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It's Brickyard 400 weekend in Indianapolis, and the president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway says attendance remains the top issue for race-related officials. Doug Boles says changes designed to address lagging tickets sales are afoot, including the series' announcement that next year's race will move to September. Other potential attendance-boosting moves include a new concert experience the day before the race, 400 Fest, that Boles believes will help drive more interest in the way music acts have for the Indianapolis 500. The race's new title sponsor, Nashville-based Big Machine Label Group, is helping wrangle bands for the pre-raceday event.

During an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Boles discussed anticipated attendance and addressed whether lights could be in the future for the famed oval. He says turnstile figures for Sunday's race are expected to be about the same as last year, which estimates pegged around 50,000. Lights, Boles says, are "an expensive investment" that has been considered for several years and will continue to be. If the return on investment proposition for a night race at IMS increases and the cost of technology continues to dip, Boles says "there may be a day in the future where you see lights at the speedway, it's just not going to be real soon, I don't think."

He said all the changes for this year and beyond point toward making the weekend more about the experience, for racing fans and non-racing fans, alike.

"The first thing that you hear from our fans is that this track is so big and has such long straightaways and flat corners that sometimes it's not as conducive for the racing as it might be if you go to Daytona or someplace, for example, where it's really banked and the cars run better," he told Multimedia Journalist Mary-Rachel Redman. "Cool temperature, though, does help the performance of the cars, so moving to September could address that issue right away." Beginning next year, the race will be the final race before the series heads into its playoffs, giving the race "more consequence."

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