As Hoosiers, we grew up watching IndyCar drivers whip around the 2.5-mile track at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Each May, thousands of fans file into the grandstands just to catch a glimpse of the speed, the athleticism and the excitement of the sport.
It is easy to see the prominence of the Indianapolis 500 on race day: 13 teams, 33 drivers, 300,000 attendees, 6.2 million viewers and an estimated $330 million annual contribution to the local economy.
This 100-year tradition helped boost Indiana onto the world’s stage, but racing’s impact on the Hoosier state extends far beyond the Indy 500 itself. In fact, each of Indiana’s 92 counties is home to at least one business that operates and provides Hoosier jobs because of the motorsports industry.
Indiana businesses at the core of racing, such as teams and track operators, employ more than 23,000 Hoosiers directly and offer average annual salaries of $63,000 – nearly 40 percent higher than the state’s average wage. These businesses, however, demand support from engineering, advanced manufacturing, transportation and logistics firms, creating a much larger motorsports industry across Indiana. Together, the industry supports 421,000 jobs at nearly 25,000 businesses in the Hoosier state, according to a study conducted by the Purdue Center on Regional Development, the IU Public Policy Institute and the Indiana Motorsports Association.
In addition to the IndyCar and IMS, Indiana is home to the IndyLights series, the United States Auto Club (USAC), as well as the teams of Andretti Autosport, Don Schumacher Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing, John Force Racing, KV Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Manufacturers, suppliers and servicers such as Advance Racing Suspensions, C&R Racing, Frank Weis Racing Components, Impact Racing and Speedway Engine Development provide the parts needed to build racecars and keep them running smoothly, while professional service firms like GRand Solutions, JMI and U/S Sports Advisors support and promote the industry.
Moreover, Indiana is sparking innovation in racing while training tomorrow’s industry leaders. Italy-based Dallara, for example, operates the world’s most advanced vehicle dynamic simulator in Speedway, which is used to support driver training and to advance the design and safety of racecars. Additionally, IUPUI is the first university in the country to offer a bachelor’s degree in motorsports engineering, and Purdue University is expanding its course offerings in engineering for the motorsports industry.
In 1911, the inaugural Indianapolis 500 laid the foundation for what would quickly grow into one of the world’s three largest motorsports hubs and the second largest automotive industry in the country. The racing industry is an important one in Indiana, and we are proud to support its operations and growth with a business climate that ranks first in the Midwest and fifth nationally. We’ve cut costs, taxes and regulations so that racing firms can enjoy a fiscally predictable economy in the face of a competitive industry.
As a Hoosier, I am overwhelmed with hometown pride as we celebrate the 100th running of the largest single-day sporting event, setting the stage for the next 100 years of racing and job creation. As Indiana celebrates its bicentennial this year, I know our state’s third century will be our best one yet thanks to the drive of the motorsports industry.
Jim Schellinger is president of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.