I have worked in public relations at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1998, back when the old battleship-gray Control Tower still cast a shadow over the front straightaway and the infield road course was just an idea on a cocktail napkin. I want this Web site to provoke thought, evoke emotion, build a sense of shared community among race fans and give everyone the virtual experience of what an amazing, electric place IMS is during a race weekend. This place oozes racing history and tradition; you can feel the ghosts every time you walk in. Outside of racing, my first sports love is boxing. I also dig hockey, football, riding my mountain bike, downhill skiing, rock, classic jazz and progressive house music (weird mix, I know), PC sim racing, reading, the Web, my wife and our three nutso, sweet kids. I tweet periodically, mostly about boxing and racing, @pk500.
My freelance coverage of IndyCar racing began in 2003, but the seeds were planted long before that. As a sportswriter for The Des Moines Register, I covered a wide variety of beats, including Nebraska football, Drake football and basketball, Iowa wrestling and – key point here – Knoxville Raceway. My interest in racing led to regular coverage of the Indianapolis 500 beginning in 1992. In 2003, I left the newspaper and moved to Indianapolis to cover IndyCar racing for several clients, including RACER, Autosport and IndyCar magazines and their websites. The list of clients for the 500 has expanded to include versus.com and the annual advertising section in Sports Illustrated. I surrendered Colts and Butler basketball season tickets for the sunshine of Florida in 2009, but still spend the month of May in Indianapolis and spend the rest of the season chasing the IZOD IndyCar Series around the country. Find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jeffolson77 and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeffolson
While growing up in Indiana, I developed a deep love and understanding of the Indianapolis 500, with names such as Parnelli Jones, A.J. Foyt, Jim Clark and Mario Andretti taking on legendary status. Memorial Day meant the family cookout with the voice of Sid Collins calling the race on the radio in the family backyard in Koontz Lake, Ind. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway held a certain magic, but I did not attend my first Indianapolis 500 until 1981 while I was attending Indiana University. Crammed up against the fence inside the fourth turn in the infield, seeing the colors of the cars and the high-pitched whine of the engines, I was instantly hooked. I was the sports intern at The Toledo Blade that summer and covered my first race at the 1981 Michigan 500.
After graduating from IU, I began a sports writing career in North Carolina that included stops at The Gazette in Gastonia, N.C., before moving on to United Press International, National Speed Sport News, Autosport, ESPN SportsTicker and SI.com, where I am an auto racing columnist for Sports Illustrated’s website. Throughout that journey, I have won numerous awards in both the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasts Association (AARWBA) and the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA). I am a two-time winner of the Russ Catlin Award, considered one of the most prestigious awards in motorsports journalism, for best auto racing story in 1987 and 1999. I have covered every Indianapolis 500 since 1989.