Major renovations are coming to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but the improvements will not include the addition of lights.
The most notable of the changes announced Tuesday will be the addition of an apron in all four corners of the venerable 2.5-mile track that hosts marquee events for both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the Izod IndyCar Series.
In theory the implementation of an apron should provide more opportunities for stock cars to pass and race side-by-side as drivers have long lamented that Indianapolis' tight corners and high speeds were not conducive to good racing. The apron costs less than $1 million and will only be used for NASCAR races, according to Jeff Belskus, the president and chief executive officer of Hulman & Company, which owns and operates IMS.
Initially lights were discussed as an option as a means to help fans escape the blistering summer heat which has plagued NASCAR's annual summer stop. Many drivers spoke favorably of a night race, but the estimated $20 million price tag was deemed not a worthwhile investment. Instead, the focus will be on improving the track and the quality of racing.
Other improvements will include new video screens and pylons, the refurbishing of catch fencing throughout the speedway, enhanced seating to provide more comfort, additional elevators, expanded fan zones and improved traffic flow and parking. Additionally, the IMS road course will be completely repaved.
The upgrades come following the approval of the Indiana Motorsports Commission, which plans to invest state funds in the track's infrastructure.
"We started with ideas for improvements that totaled hundreds of millions of dollars, and we've reduced our list to a list of potential projects with total spending of about $140 million," Belskus said. "Now we have some difficult decisions ahead to pare the list further before we ask the commission for its approval."