IMS officials expect Grand Prix attendance to top projections

May 8, 2014
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said ticket sales for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis have been "really strong" since March, and he thinks attendance for Saturday's road race could top projections by a wide margin.

"Our goal was 40,000, and I really feel comfortable we're going to exceed that," Boles said. "If the weather is good, we could break that mark by quite a bit."

If the race draws 40,000 spectators that will be three times the number who came to the opening weekend of May last year, Boles said.

Boles spent much of Thursday touring the track and mixing with fans who came to the Speedway to take in practice on the re-made road course.

"The response from fans is overwhelmingly positive," Boles said. "We had lots of fans [Thursday] in turns five and seven and we had tons of fans on the viewing mounds."

While Boles said the main purpose of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis is to "elevate the month of May," he is optimistic the event can be profitable on its own, even in its first year.

"We're trying to make this event make sense for our race fans and for families," Boles said. "Tickets are half the price as they are for the Indianapolis 500, kids 12 and under are free and fans on Saturday will be able to watch four races."

In addition to the IndyCar Series race, there will be USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights races on the IMS road course Saturday.

The event isn't just making sense for fans, it's making sense for sponsors too. Verizon, the IndyCar Series new title sponsor, is bringing in a big contingent of executives from accross the country for Saturday's Grand Prix, Boles said.

"Verizon has stepped up this month more than we've had a sponsor do here in a very long time," Boles said. "In addition to Verizon, Firestone, Chevy and Miller Lite/Coors have been very active here so far. Overall we've had an awful lot of sponsor activity out here this week, and that's a very good sign."

If the main purpose of the race was to raise the profile of the month of May at the IMS, it seems to be working. Boles reported that there is a larger number of national media members at the IMS for the first weekend of May than there has been "in a very long time."

"We think that's going to help build momentum for the entire month," Boles said, "and it's certainly going to help the Indianpolis 500."

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  • Concession Prices have DOUBLED
    Early reports in the media seem to contradict the enthusiasm expressed by Douglas J. Boles III. ESPN's John Oreovicz reported maybe three or four thousand showed on FREE THURSDAY. Today we learned that concession prices have soared through the roof at the speedway...$9 for tenderloin, $7 bucks for a hot dog and $5 more for a bottle of water. The speedway is RAPING the fan to make up for the losses Hulman Racing had imposed upon themselves all these past 20 years. I and many like me will not be held hostage. AOW will die before any of us will be exploited for that garbage IMS puts on-track. Thumbs down here.
    • It didn't take long
      It didn't take long for the screamers to crawl out. Mr. Childish Alliteration doesn't understand business or accounting and that the road course improvements will have a long useful life and the investment will be recouped over that time and with the Indy Car races and the Moto GP. If you don't like the price of concessions, you can still bring in your own refreshments. I'm looking forward to a fun day at the track tomorrow with several other dads and our sons.
      • Sebeastien Saveedra Feva
        Sebastien Savvedra is all the rage. Plus, there is that Russian kid, and Franck Montagny is in the race. I would think they'll get one heck of a crowd to see the young wheelmen dice and dash tomorrow. Better than Pole Day ever was!
      • Hey don't knock it!
        It is not a bad little bargain. For $57 you can get park, get a general admission ticket, a bottled water, and a hot dog and watch that Russian kid mentioned and Simona Pagenaud, and Sebastian Bourdais race around for an hour or two or whatever it takes to run the Grand Prix. At least it is racing. Poel Day was just qualifying. One car at a time going around for four laps just to settle the starting field of the Indy 500. Ok, that is a big race, but how exciting could qualifying really be? Thsi is an actual race!
        • ......
          Well with no bumping and 33 cars running at 97%ish of what they were 20 years ago with absolutely no chance of a track record... Then ya you really can't expect much from qualifying But there was a time.....
        • face palm
          What right does IMS radio have letting Mike king and Bob jenkins return to work? is this the ADA accommodations us handicapers been waiting for? i need a crane to get me into E Stand for the brad Pitt concert on thank god its over day. sheesh, save our track these loudspeakers are from 1946 already. I'll by a freakin $15 hot dog, TURN THEM DOWN!
        • Chief
          Back to the reservation for you.
        • Raping?
          Really? Raping? Because when a consumer VOLUNTARILY chooses not to take advantage of bring their own food and drink in a cooler (one of the last major sporting facilities in the word to allow such a thing) it can hardly be called such a hyperbolic term. The reality is they are charging what the market will bear. If you don't like it they actually allow you to BRING YOUR OWN FREE FOOD!!!
        • Neighborhood parking crackdown!
          Indystar has a great story on how the Speedway Gestapo is pushing around the poor folks who park cars on their lawns. Yeah...raping. There was once a charm associated with the month of May. It's all gone because it *ok* now to be like every place else in the auto racing world that nickels and dimes every commodity the 500 ever offered. I ask you this...how did the speedway make money 1946 through1994? Yet, since 1996 it's been a money pit to the tune $1,000,000,000? So yeah, it's akin to rape, the ticket increases, the concessions increases, the parking increases, the tax revenue increases. All on the backs of dummies who support these skinflints. All against the will of the race fan. And now to be seen of club auto cross tracks near you soon.
          • Please....
            IBJ, just cut and paste any old ridiculous post by Chef at the bottom of Anthony's comments.Then block any new so we don't have to wade through his redundant gibberish again.
          • Bring back F1
            The cars and the drivers in this series today just don't cut it. Bring F1 back to Indy and we'll get to see the best racing with the best equipment. Then, I will pay whatever they want to charge for a hotdog.
          • Rah, Indy, Rah
            Thanks for the economics lesson, Ringo. Go over to IndyStar and see the buzz about yesterday's race. One comment. Nobody cares except you. It is a moral outrage that struggling Indiana taxpayers are routinely raped by our gutless legislature, but hey, we're stupid enough to take it so we get what we deserve. This wouldn't happen other places. It wouldn't be necessary. Here in Indy Central HS, we're all expected to cheer for the home team. I think I'm going to be sick.
          • Cooler lines
            Last year I took my son to his first Indy 500 we saw an awesome race but we almost missed it because the cooler check lines were so long. IMS had one gate open for what 300,000 people? had to dump the cooler along Georgetown or miss race, been at least 20 times but I will watch it on TV from now on. Indy car needs more oval tracks and more competition these road courses are killing the sport. Go back to Chicagoland where the racing was the best and most exciting I have ever seen anywhere and actually promote the race. Thats how you get fans back.
          • The front engine crowd
            The front engine crowd is in out in full force. They like Ike, too. The inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis was a great event. Fan-friendly, reasonable prices, great crowd,fun activities, cool car show, and interesting racing. My sons and I enjoyed watching the race from several different viewing mounds. None of this matters to the trailer-park refugees that pine for the days of front-engines, scaffolding collapsing in the infield, and Ike and Tricky Dick.
          • the good ole days
            Whatever happened to the days when people knew and could pronounce the drivers. Names like Foyt, Mears, Johncock, Andretti, Unser, Just pick up a 1985 program and you will recognize at least 28 names in the field. Not so in 2014. The Indy 500 of old was meant to be an American status symbol. Not so in 2014. Get used to it folks- it can only get worse!
            • No Paulz...
              There's NEVER been a foreign driver at the speedway until recently. In fact no foreign driver ever won it. Not one, ever!
            • Those darn foreigners
              Can you believe that a foreign driver has won the Indy 500 23 times? The horror. That's not including Mario Andretti, born in Italy. The foreigners are also in the NBA, MLB, NFL, Soccer and the White House!

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            1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

            2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

            3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

            4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

            5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

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