Roger Penske, the owner of motorsport’s IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), has revealed a set of improvements for this year’s Indianapolis 500 as part of a multifaceted plan to ‘boost and strengthen’ the race and its historic venue.
The plan involves significant financial investment that will see the 2020 Indy 500 feature the largest purse in the event’s 104-year history, growing by US$2 million to US$15 million.
Penske has also made a ‘multimillion-dollar’ investment on technology upgrades and infrastructure improvements designed to improve the fan experience at IMS.
Technology enhancements include the addition of 30 large-screen video boards that will provide race action and information to spectators. There will also be a new IMS Media Wall, which will provide data-driven race insights to fans generated by IndyCar's title sponsor NTT.
IndyCar and IMS have also added Pennzoil, Verizon, Snap-on Tools, DEX Imaging, Road & Track Magazine and Global Medical Response as new major sponsors for 2020. The deal with Verizon will see the telecommunications giant equip IMS with its 5G Ultra Wideband network, making the venue the first motorsport facility to feature a commercial 5G service.
“This is the Racing Capital of the World,” said Penske. “It is on par with some of the most historic sporting institutions in this nation and across the globe, from Churchill Downs to Augusta National. Today, we’re announcing a meaningful investment in our fan experience that will produce rapid results. It’s part of a long-term plan to ensure the legendary status of the Speedway continues to grow and evolve for generations to come.
“I am very excited about the enhancements to qualifying weekend, the largest-ever ‘500’ purse, new sponsors and the significant investments we are making to the IndyCar Series and to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
The upgrades are the first major improvements announced since Penske’s company, Penske Entertainment Corp., completed its takeover of IndyCar and IMS from Hulman & Company back in November.
This year’s event will also feature a raft of on-track changes designed to create more drama and excitement. The Last Row Shootout qualifying event will expand from 60 to 75 minutes, while cars will be equipped with 45 additional horsepower to produce higher speeds.
This year’s Indy 500 will be the 104th edition of the race and takes place on 24th May.