Skip to Main Content

News & Multimedia

Total Solar Eclipse Event at IMS presented by Purdue
Astronaut Feustel Ready To Race into IMS for Solar Eclipse April 8

The entire state of Indiana can witness the solar eclipse Monday, April 8. However, only cities and towns within the 115-mile-wide path of totality can see the true solar eclipse.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is directly in that path.

The iconic racetrack is capitalizing on the phenomenon by opening its gates for the public to witness something that hasn’t happened in 819 years and won’t happen again for another 129 years.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway has joined forces with another Indiana institution, Purdue University, as the presenting sponsor for the historic event. The Total Solar Eclipse Event at IMS presented by Purdue University will be one of the nation’s most prominent viewing events for the once-in-a-generation phenomenon.

Chosen as one of only a few NASA broadcast sites that day, IMS will draw all eyes to Indianapolis, located in the heart of the path of totality. The exciting day of programming and festivities will feature Boilermaker experts, alumni, students and more during the in-person event and broadcasted across the world.

The alliance between IMS and Purdue is a perfect pairing. Purdue has a longstanding history with developing professionals who work in motorsports or travel in space. There’s been more Boilermaker graduates in Gasoline Alley working on NTT INDYCAR SERIES cars than any other university in Indiana. Purdue boasts the nation’s only accredited motorsports engineering program.

According to Purdue President Mung Chiang, 32 of the 33 cars represented in the 2022 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge had a Purdue graduate working on that car.

Purdue also brings a wealth of space knowledge to this partnership. The university is the Cradle of Astronauts, producing 27 astronauts who’ve graduated from its campus. One is Drew Feustel. He took three space flights with NASA before retiring last year and remains a passionate motorsports fan who is excited his two worlds are colliding April 8.

“Lot of similarities that tie back to my background,” Feustel said. “This is all selfishly a dream come true.”

Before Feustel became a Purdue student, he attended community college in Farmington Hills, Michigan. While doing so, he worked as an auto mechanic, spawning his love of cars.

After earning an associate’s degree from Oakland Community College, Feustel transferred to Purdue with a focus on earth science and geophysics.

That led him toward space. But his love of automobiles never waned.

In 2018, Feustel was participating in a seven-month orbit of Earth on the International Space Station and took it upon himself to create a project of taking photos of all NTT INDYCAR SERIES racetracks from outer space to post on Fridays entering each respective race weekend. It was the perfect blend of his passion for space and racing.

That’s why he’s honored to be a piece of history in any capacity April 8.

“All the synergy is coming together in one place,” Feustel said.

IMS is putting on a full day’s worth of events surrounding the eclipse for people to enjoy at the track. This day will be far more than just three minutes and 46 seconds of darkness during totality.

Purdue and IMS will collaborate on special exhibits inside the track to educate fans about space and racing – and their unique tie-ins. Consider it a fast-paced science fair.

From a STEM symposium with presentations, displays and exhibits, to a booth featuring Purdue, NASA, Indiana Space Grant Consortium and NearSpace Education experts to a data balloon launch, as well as Kiss The Bricks Tours, autograph sessions with NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers and astronauts and an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car taking demonstration laps, IMS and Purdue are using this phenomenon to produce a days’ worth of excitement.

Tickets and more information for The Total Solar Eclipse Event at IMS presented by Purdue University are available here.

Show More Show Less