SPEEDWAY — The Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds 113 years of history and its president, Doug Boles, knows just about all of it.
With this year’s 106th running of the Indianapolis 500, he’s opening the boxes and showing us the history of the greatest spectacle in racing, through its badges.
Each year, the badges have graphics sporting a different design. Boles said all the years tell a different story.
"The older they get, the harder they are to find," he said.
Boles said the badges are like an all-access pass. They give fans access to garages, pit areas, cars, crews, and drivers.
They’re also some of the most collectible items IMS has and some people try to gather them every year.
“We get people calling us, ‘Hey I need to keep my collection. Can I have my badge from 2020 even though the race didn’t have fans in it?'” Boles said.
They mark big moments, like Mario Andretti's 50th win in the Indy 500.
"Everybody loves Mario,” Boles said.
It’s a love for the world of racing, a memento that gives spectators access unlike any other sport.
Boles said, “in a world where oftentimes we restrict where people can go, we really want to give people an opportunity to experience a race and the drivers and the personalities and know why that’s completely unique to our event.”
The woman who keeps this archive in order is making history for women too. Roxine Dunbar is the first collections manager for IMS.
“It is a monumental task," she said.
With more than 200 different badges, she’s always working to preserve IMS history.
“We care for trophies, badges programs, tickets, artwork, suits, helmets," Dunbar said. “All of them have been properly cataloged, preserved and photographed and updated in our database.”
It’s polishing, cataloging, and collecting that helps us appreciate Indy 500 history for years to come.
Boles said working at IMS is, "the coolest job in the world."
With all the years of badges, this year’s badge is also making history. Helio Castroneves is on the cover. The badge shows him climbing the fence after he won last year.
However, it’s historic because this is the first time a driver will be on the badge while he’s still actively competing.
If you want a badge, you can order one all the way up until race day. In fact, a lot of people come in on Carb Day and buy them.
Badges cost $160. It covers gate admission and garage access for all the days they’re open to the public, except for the GMR Grand Prix and Indy 500 Race Days.
Credentials Manager Paige Dukes said, “A lot of our fans love it. So, a lot of our fans will renew their badge the next day after the race day for the upcoming year because they are just so excited and can’t wait and don’t want to miss out.”