Analyzing Speedwayâ??s success

May 27, 2008
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If you were at the track over the weekend or in the past few weeks, you made your way through Speedway, an island of stability in a county where some other older communities, like Beech Grove, are slipping into decay.

Speedway has managed to stay solidly middle-class despite its blue-collar demographic. The town has good schools, lots of nicely maintained houses, and forward-thinking leadership. As IBJ reported this weekend, Speedway leaders are bent on pushing ahead with a big revitalization plan to make the town a year-round racing attraction.

How has Speedway, which occupies a mere four square miles, stayed the course?

It helps to have lots of money. Not only does Indianapolis Motor Speedway pour tax dollars into the townâ??s coffers, but so do Allison Transmission, the Marathon fuel terminal and Praxair, the industrial gas firm. Those locations hire plenty of people at good wages, too.

Residents also take pride in the town, says council President Gary Raikes. And the school system glues the town together socially. Speedway isnâ??t quite Mayberry, but itâ??s close, Raikes insists.

What do you think? Can other communities learn from Speedway?
  • I always thought of Speedway as a run down area.....I am confused by this article. I do believe the $500 million redevelopment is needed to make Speedway great. That is just my take....
  • There may be a pocket of well maintained homes, but I think the general perception of the town is that it is dumpy. I think if they can pull off the redevelopment project, it will really transform the area and most perceptions
  • Comments like those above stem from the condition of the other Speedway, which is the Eagledale neighborhood bordering the north side of the track and the Coke field.

    Speedway is not a shiny brand-new housing division, but is far from dumpy. Most residents take pride in their lawns and the appearance of their homes.

    Eagledale, on the other hand, is full of neglected properties and cheap housing stock
  • I also am confused by the article. Speedway seems so run down to me. Beech Grove seems much nicer.
  • Speedway's biggest problem is the 16th and Georgetown/Main Street area, and this is the exact area that is going to be redone. Once you get into the neighborhoods it's actually an okay little town.
  • If you drive the through Speedway - you will notice the neat, tidy, modest homes which make up this great Westside community. There is a sense of pride and ownership - which is not often seen in urban areas- especially given the age of the homes. Eagledale is not Speedway - where there is a 50/50 margin of homes neglected and homes where there is pride in ownership. With the revitalization plan for the 16th/Georgetown/Main St areas - it will only enhance the area which is known for the IMS. Speedway reflects Indianapolis in a positive light - work hard, buy a decent, modest home, raise a family, educate them in decent schools, and take pride in your community. Where Speedway differs from Beech Grove is the theme of racing. Beech Grove has nice sections - but lacks a identity. This is what makes Speedway a success. Speedway's leaders are trying to capitalize on the theme of racing to enhance an area which will replace industrial downsizing with beautification and image - which makes Speedway and Indianapolis look great!
  • Speedway isn't Carmel but it is a pretty decent area.
    I never really took a walk or anything around Speedway but I've yet to see rows of abandon homes or shells of structures. The houses are fairly maintained and occupied (which believe it or not people, is a pretty decent win.)
    I'm no urban expert but I'd give Speedway a thumbs up for a bright future.
    If they can find a way to revive certian parts and update/improve other parts it can become a really nice part of town.
    I would like to see the Speedway redevelopment plans go through but I'd like to see a lot of the Speedway character preserved.
    We wouldn't want it to be like everything else now would we?
  • I think certain poster's misperceptions about Speedway being dumpy stem from their confusing the neighborhoods of Indianapolis immediately adjacent to Speedway with the Town of Speedway proper. Once you cross into Speedway's boundaries, the difference is like between night and day. In general, the main thoroughfares people travel near Speedway go through rundown areas of Indianapolis, not through Speedway. Most neighborhoods in Speedway are attractive and very nicely maintained. It is true the town is neither trendy nor super-affluent, but it is a well-kept middle-class enclave. The town has a very high home ownership rate, healthy retail industry, excellent public schools, a good public library, and well-maintained streets.

    However, the area near 16th and Georgetown, near the main entrance to the Raceway does need to be redevelop--it is one of the few areas of Speedway which has been allowed to go downhill, along with the now dilapidated adjacent historic Main Street business district. The proposed redevelopment plan would truly put a new face forward for Speedway and also revive what was once a thriving Main Street.

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