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Rite Of Passage At IMS

A lot of our fans first experienced the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a child. I did so as a lanky 13-year-old, exploring the grounds, watching practice from various stands and attempting to sneak into Gasoline Alley numerous times.

As I learned, and as thousands have surely discovered, that first experience at IMS is the moment you get hooked.

For me, it was the sound of the engines, the size of the arena and the bravery of the drivers. I’m guessing you remember your first visit to IMS, and many of the same sights and sounds that I took with me have stayed with you as well. It’s unforgettable.

Waiting patiently for a driver, in 1968

Last spring I brought my young son, Oliver, to the track on a quiet day to enjoy a sunny April afternoon, wanting to share my appreciation for the Pagoda with him.


Oliver Sterling Incandela enjoys his first experience at IMS

Within moments, IMS became his playground.

Since then, I’ve worked the three main IMS events and paid closer attention to the kids at our facility. I wanted to think about their exposure to IMS, what got them excited and how we could make a visit to the track an experience that made them fans for life. These youngsters are the future fans and followers of what takes place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and, so the task is definitely worthy of consideration.

Even if I didn’t work at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I’d still have elaborate plans for Oliver and I to visit IMS – practice days, qualifying, bump day and of course, race day. Everyone needs a rite of passage. He’ll have his chance to establish his first memory, pick a favorite driver – even pick a favorite form of motor sport.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has already taken a big step in offering a Kids Club Membership (my son is a member), and beyond that, we’re always thinking of ways we can bring our fans closer to the racing action. Whether it’s a physical visit to IMS or a virtual visit through our website, we still have more work to do, but it’s important to all of us here.

The younger audience has played a pivotal role in the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. One only has to look through our 100 year photographic history to see that. Kids have always been a major part of IMS’ fabric.

Like generations of parents before me, I’m gradually introducing my son to this 102-year-old facility, its folklore, history, heroes and excitement. It’s a tradition I hope he passes on to his children, and so on.

Take a look back on photographs of yesteryear and you’ll understand why it’s vital to cultivate a new audience for the general health of auto racing. And how that first experience at a racetrack has the inspirational power to not only breed the next generation of race car fans, but the mechanics, drivers, owners, sponsors, photographers and journalists that will add new chapters to IMS’ history.
PHOTOS: Click below more images of Kids At IMS

You can also view this story with image gallery on
Now – let’s hear your stories about visiting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time.
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Rite Of Passage At IMS
Rite Of Passage At IMS
Like generations of parents before me, I'm gradually introducing my son to the 102-year-old IMS facility, its folklore, history, heroes and excitement.
Read More
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