Three-fourths of ticket buyers to new Speedway road race from Indiana

Ticket sales for the inaugural IndyCar road race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next May are off to a fast start, IMS officials say. The officials expect attendance to hit at least 50,000—the high end of Speedway projections when the event was announced in September.

“We had a very good first week and we’ve had steady interest since,” said IMS President Doug Boles.

As expected, the May 10 race will be attended mostly by locals, with 76 percent of the ticket buyers coming from Indiana, according to Boles.

The density of ticket buyers coming from Indiana means visitor spending from the event will be limited, tourism and hospitality experts said. If the early sales projections hold true, that means only about 12,000 non-Hoosiers will attend the race.

The other buyers are spread across 41 states—particularly Illinois and Ohio, followed by Kentucky, Michigan and Wisconsin—and six countries.

Seats in turn four of the IMS oval are most popular. Upper deck tickets there “are basically gone,” Boles said. Tickets in oval turn one also are selling briskly.

“The higher up you go in those areas, the stronger the sales,” Boles explained.

While sales have been slow for general admission tickets—which would allow fans access to much of the infield, Boles said the views atop several of the infield mounds “are spectacular.” One mound in particular between turns two and three of the road course offer views of “multiple passing zones,” Boles said.

“We think once people experience those areas, they’ll be very popular,” Boles said, adding that a good number of general admission tickets could be sold the week or even the day of the race.

“We think this race could be a lot like the MotoGP [motorcycle] race with a lot of walk-up [day-of-race] ticket sales,” Boles said.

The new race is fueling early interest in the Indianapolis 500. Since the Grand Prix of Indianapolis tickets went on sale Oct. 14, ticket sales for the Indianapolis 500 have spiked. Fans who buy tickets to the 500 get $10 off their ticket to Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

“We sold more tickets to the Indianapolis 500 in two days than we did during three weeks last year,” Boles said. “We feel like this is really going to energize the month of May at the Speedway.”

This week, IMS crews laid down the last of the pavement of the redesigned road course on the Speedway’s infield, with team owner Sarah Fisher riding atop the paver as it was finished. Today, 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan will turn a few laps on the serpentine course in a Chevrolet Corvette.

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