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GUEST BLOG: DOUG BOLES

Racing has been my passion for almost as long as I can remember. And every day I realize how blessed I am to have my dream job: president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Going to work every day at the Racing Capital of the World, the very same place that turned so many of my childhood heroes into legends, is something for which I will always be grateful.  

At IMS, we look forward to the Month of May all year. All of the late nights and careful planning, all of the fun milestone events like the Borg-Warner Trophy Unveil and “100 Days Out Party,” build toward one thing: the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. I always say every Indy 500 at IMS is the most important until the checkered flag falls and then the most important race is the very next Indy 500. This statement is more than lip service; it’s a mantra our team takes very seriously. To stay the world’s largest single-day sporting event, we must always innovate, always add to our legacy and hopefully build a bigger and brighter future for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, too.

So, for reasons both personal and professional, not running the race in May has, of course, been a very different and disappointing feeling. This is the first time since the World War II era that we won’t take the Green Flag in May, a fact that underscores the challenging and unusual nature of our times.

But, as IMS owner Roger Penske often reminds me, “everything is an opportunity.” And out of all this uncertainty, I do believe there are silver linings to be found, some positives to take away and progress to build toward. Driving through Indy’s neighborhoods this Month of May, I’ve been inspired by the number of Wing & Wheel flags and other racing themed decorations proudly displayed on people’s front porches. Surveying construction at IMS the other day, I watched a number of Speedway residents practice “social distancing” while still tailgating and cheering on family and friends running the 500 Festival’s virtual mini-marathon.

We’ve always said that May is more than a race; it’s a chance to come together and showcase our belief in each other and our community. That spirit is clearly unchanged. It’s here in May, and it will be here in August, the month of the rescheduled 104th edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

For our racing community, that spirit has been powerful inspiration as we work to get back on track. This week at IMS, we put the finishing touches on a special broadcast that will air this Sunday over Memorial Day weekend. Along with an inside look at last year’s epic battle between Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud, it will include special tributes to our military heroes and front-line workers, who continue to inspire all of us with their selfless service and sacrifice. We’re grateful to NBC Sports for this opportunity to showcase our venue on such a global stage, and I hope everyone will tune in and enjoy a taste of what we normally expect on Memorial Day Sunday. We’ll publish a viewing guide on IMS.com soon, which also includes virtual Carb Day and Legends Day opportunities you can take part in leading up to Sunday.

I think for everyone the COVID-19 pandemic has been a reset on many levels. While I’ve had my fair share of frustrating days and anxious moments, I’ve also spent more time with my family and been reminded of the everyday privileges we take for granted. This will give many of us a fresh mindset when we make our eventual return to a more normal life, including INDYCAR racing and the Indy 500.

In the meantime, our IMS team will keep working hard to have our facility in the best shape possible for that magic day when our gates open again. If you drive by the track during the evening, you’ll notice new light up signage in front of Gate 1. This is one of many improvements we’ll unveil before our next racing events.  

We miss seeing everyone walk through our doors and know we’re lucky to have the best and most devoted fans in the world. I’m wishing everyone a reflective and peaceful Memorial Day weekend and hoping I can see all of you at IMS soon.

Sincerely,

J. Douglas Boles

PS: Don’t forget to impress your boss or loved ones with these IMS Zoom backdrops! And thanks to Andretti Autosport for the chance to contribute to this blog series!