In spring 1909, four businessmen had a vision to build an automobile testing ground to support Indiana’s growing automotive industry. The goal was to provide a proving ground to test and improve cars, tires, driving surfaces and to promote Indianapolis as a leader in a newly developing industry.

More than 112 years later, that mission continues with the Indy Autonomous Challenge.

On Saturday, Oct. 23, on the same 2.5 miles that brought everyday commuters many important automotive features like the rear-view mirror and strong, durable tires, the Speedway will facilitate another collective step toward the future of transportation with the world’s first head-to-head, high-speed autonomous race, held in conjunction with Energy Systems Network.

The Indy Autonomous Challenge will help bring to life advancements in vehicle automation and their life-changing impact on society. The technology produced, tested and verified right here in our backyard has the potential to truly change what all of us experience on the road.

Advancements in vehicle automation may soon save lives on our highways, reduce energy consumption and provide consumers with more options.

The fact that we can use IMS to drive innovation while also providing world-class entertainment is truly exciting and in line with our founders’ vision. I certainly hope you will follow along at as we get closer to October.

You might be wondering how this fall event fits into our wider commitment to the exhilarating world of motorsports. While the Indy Autonomous Challenge will surely have far-reaching technological advancements, this is by no means a replacement for our drivers. The Indy 500 is, and will always be, a test of driver and machine, and is a driver-first enterprise.

If anything, just like how the Indy Autonomous Challenge will help us drive better on the road, tools used and honed this fall might someday help competitors in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge as they navigate racetrack conditions.

Beyond the Indy 500, this is also an investment in our industry, our partners and the State of Indiana.

Thirty teams made up of academic institutions from four continents, 11 countries and 14 U.S. states will bring graduate students, PhDs and mentors in the realm of artificial intelligence software to the World’s Greatest Race Course and introduce them to our sport and community. We very well could be fostering the next wave of race engineers and other people that will make a difference in motorsports and transportation and will do so here in Indianapolis.

As we welcome hundreds of new people to our community though the Indy Autonomous Challenge, I have no doubt they will see why we know the Circle City and Hoosier State are special. Also on display will be the potential opportunities that exist for them right here in our backyard, whether it’s at IMS, in INDYCAR, or other parts of the growing technological hub in Central Indiana.

The Speedway and Energy Systems Network are certainly not alone in putting on this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Dallara, one of the best race car engineering companies in the world with North American headquarters here in Speedway, Indiana, is a vital participant. The company has been the sole race car supplier of Indy Lights since 2002 and will supply a modified Dallara IL-15 as the official IAC race car. The car will be retrofitted with hardware and controls that enable automation to enhance safety, control and performance.

The event also has the support of Firestone, the exclusive tire supplier for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Firestone found this event compelling because it views itself as a technology company more than a tire company, and Firestone believes the Indy Autonomous Challenge will help advance the future of mobility for us all.

Big things are always happening at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and this event is no different. True to our DNA, this continues a long heritage of automotive innovation at the Racing Capital of the World. Over the last century, the Speedway has been a proving ground for cars, tires, automotive and motorsports safety and, now, vehicle automation.

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