The new owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway says he is looking at ways not only to improve the venue and its events, but also create a greater economic impact. Roger Penske, who completed his acquisition of IMS, the NTT IndyCar Series and IMS Productions last week, says there is plenty of growth potential. “There’s a lot of utilization that can take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and that area, and that’s my goal,” said Penske.
Penske spoke about the acquisition and his plans for the future in a special extended interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick. He said he wants IMS to be an economic boon for the region
“When you’re thinking about $500 million today, (could) we have a Formula 1 race? Could we have a six-hour race? All of these events create economic impact,” said Penske. “We promote the races in Detroit for the city of Detroit, and an IndyCar race is $50 million. So you can imagine if we can bring another key event, plus if we look at our real estate, is there a development that we could do to take that core part of the city, tie it around the Indianapolis 500 or the Speedway? And that’s maybe not today, tomorrow or next year, but those are things that I call utilization.”
An important point for Penske is to sustain the Indy 500 as the iconic event that it is. He says the economic development side is another important aspect.
“What can we do to raise the economic impact for the town of Speedway, city of Indianapolis, and also the region and the state. So we need to have a plan that’s going to build that and this could be just at the Speedway internal; it could be external, taking the 1,000 acres that we have. I think that’s important. But more important is we’re a promoter. This is a sporting event. What’s the guest experience?”
Watch Part Two of the interview here:
Penske says his first goal in his new role is to find ways to improve the guest experience at IMS ahead of this year’s Indy 500. During a reception last week at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, he said several million dollars will be invested ahead of the race, with more details expected 100 days out from the race.
“I walked every square inch, I think, of this track and places I haven’t walked in the past and we see a number of areas that we can make a difference,” said Penske. “And this is not a difference for us to create more revenue; this is a difference, quite honestly, to make the guest experience better.”
Penske is also looking at ways to bring the NTT IndyCar Series “to the next level.” He says his team needs to take the assets it has and sit down with race promoters to find ways to help them grow their races.
“Really on top of that, you realize all sports have had trouble gaining market share during 2019. IndyCar had higher TV ratings and also they had higher attendance; we’ve got to sustain that. But more important is keeping the cost of the sport in line so we can attract you or someone else as a car owner and also have the opportunity to bring new, young drivers.”