Rite Of Passage At IMS
Thursday, December 29, 2011
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.
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.
Within moments, IMS became his playground.
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.