INDIANAPOLIS — Roger Penske promised improvements to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the 500 mile race when he purchased the 110-year-old track last year. Friday, with the 2020 race just 100 days away, some of the specifics were announced.
Bigger Payday: The purse for this year's 500 will be the largest ever, more than $15 million. That's about $2 million more than in the past. The winner will receive more than $2 million when bonuses are factored in.
Qualifying: It seems like there are changes most year in the qualifying process. Speedway officials outlined a new approach this year. The Last Row Shootout will be expanded by 75 minutes and multiple attempts will be allowed, rather than just one.
Speed: Remember Arie Luyendyk's record qualification run of nearly 237 mph in 1996? Current speeds are well below that, but they are expected to increase in 2020. Turbocharger boost will increase horsepower by 45 HP.
Technology upgrades: More than 30 additional large-screen video boards will be added. A new video board measuring 100 feet wide by 20 feet tall will be installed at the base of the Pagoda facing the Pagoda Plaza. IMS will also become the first motorsports facility with commercial 5G service.
Georgetown Road. Georgetown was permanently closed to vehicles between West 25th Street and the Speedway roundabout a few years ago. Now Georgetown is being widened by two lanes to make it easier for race fans to get into and out of the track. This is a major undertaking and it's already underway. In fact, Roger Penske said all of the projects announced Friday will be ready by early May.
Bathrooms: Of paramount importance to race fans. More than 125 public restrooms inside the track are being renovated with new sinks, better lightning and paint. As for the troughs in men's room, they stay.