Speedway agrees to major overhaul in ADA settlement

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to bring the historic structure into compliance with federal disability guidelines after investigators found 360 violations of federal disability law.

The settlement, announced Thursday afternoon, stems from a 1999 complaint from Dan Ward, who claimed that his wheelchair prevented him access to the pit area during an Indianapolis 500 practice session even though he had a pit pass.

As a result, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has worked with IMS officials to come up with a plan to bring the facility into compliance by modifying or improving hundreds of features, elements and spaces, including restrooms, parking lots, grandstands and dining areas.

A Department of Justice spokesperson said the modifications, which are estimated to take 30 months to complete, likely will cost the speedway “millions of dollars.”

IMS will pay Ward $35,000 to settle the complaint and will submit a report to the U.S. Attorney’s Office every 90 days for the next two years, updating the office on the progress of the changes to the speedway.

The speedway also agreed to permit follow-up inspections from Department of Justice officials and to design future buildings to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In addition, IMS has agreed to develop new training procedures for employees and to develop a policy that permits individuals with disabilities to enter the pit or garage areas with the proper credentials.

The speedway was built in 1909, well before the ADA took effect in 1990.

“For more than a century, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been a treasured symbol for all Hoosiers, and this agreement ensures that it will now be accessible to all Hoosiers,” U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Hogsett said in a prepared statement.


  • The delay is embarrassment to Indiana
    I am embarrassed as a Hoosier that the Speedway has taken nearly 14 years to settle this complaint and to come up with a corrective plan.
  • Shameful
    It is shameful that it took a law suit and a multi-year Federal investigation for IMS to do the right, legal and respectable thing.
    • Bristol is in compliance!
      We attended the Bristol Motor Speedway in August 2011. They have excellent supportive measures in place for those of us in wheelchairs. The wheelchair spot seating allows adequate room for large electric wheelchairs like mine. They have individual handicap bathrooms inside the racetrack bleachers area. My husband had a nice "attendants" seat right next to my wheelchair seat and the racetrack seating attendants were very helpful and checked on us regularly to ensure we had a great raceday experience. We camped for the week prior to the race weekend at the racetrack's "Thunder Road" casmpground and their campground has nice bathing and toilet facilities. That week, the racetrack even supplied vans for those of us that are handicapped and my husband was allowed to ride with me everytime they took me back and forth to the racetrack or downtown for the driver's parade. Finally, I would like to add that some of the drivers and their booths down in the outside area setup for raceteam advertising are equipped so that I could participate in those events as well and the day that I went to where Michael Waltrip was speaking and signing autographs, I was one of the first people to arrive in front of the stage. I really wanted a "Lucky Dog" and Michael's autograph, but when Michael stepped out onto the stage, a rude man stepped in front of me so that I could not be seen {I thought). Michael being the kind gentleman that he is did see me and handed the man a Lucky Dog and had him hand it to me and did not give that man any of the things they were handing out. Then one of the Sharpie girls in the booth next to the stage saw that I was holding my Lucky Dog up for an autograph but Michael did not see me. She asked to hold my Lucky Dog and took it backstage and Michael's young lady that was helping him took it out onto the stage and he signed it and sent it back to me. What great memories! Boy, I couldn't have had a more pleasurable racing experience. I am glad to hear that the Indianapolis Speedway is modernizing their facilities so that others can experience the great Nascar Raceday experience.

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