Boles: Indy 500 is an Indiana asset

Mar. 28—ANDERSON — Doug Boles, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said the Indianapolis 500 is an Indiana asset.

Boles was the featured speaker Thursday at the Madison County Chamber of Commerce Wake Up Breakfast at the Anderson First Church of the Nazarene Community Center.

During his comments, it became clear that Boles has a strong passion for both the Indianapolis 500 and the speedway.

He said Anderson is in the top 20 markets for the Indianapolis 500.

"Without Indiana there wouldn't be an Indianapolis 500," Boles said.

He urged people who had not been to Anderson Speedway to check it out.

"There is nothing like the Little 500 in the world," Boles said the of local track's marque event. "I went in 2020 and it was an amazing experience."

In November 2019, Boles was in Texas and was supposed to be going to Las Vegas for a trade show.

"I got a call that I had to get back to Indiana," Boles said. "I saw Roger Penske at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and that's when I knew that he was buying the speedway."

Boles said that after purchasing the track Penske remained committed to the Indianapolis 500, Indiana and the staff.

Penske has invested $60 million in the speedway since purchasing the track in 2019, he said.

Boles said Penske immediately went to work on improving the experience for the spectators.

"We wanted to determine how to make the customer experience better," he said.

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Penske made the decision to conduct the Indianapolis 500 without fans.

"Without the Indianapolis 500 the teams could have had to refund money to sponsors," he said. "Some would have closed their doors."

The decision to conduct the race in 2020 was to keep the teams in business for the future, Boles said.

"It's not an Indy 500 without the fans," he said. "People have been taken to their first race by a family member and see the same people every year."

Boles said for the first two years Penske carried the speedway before getting any revenues from ticket sales.

"Roger (Penske) loves the state of Indiana," he said. "We want Indiana on the center stage during the largest sporting event in the world."

The most moving part for Boles on race day was honoring the members of the military and those that died serving the county.

"There is total silence when there is the playing of TAPS," he said. "It's an emotional moment. We want everything we do to have a positive impact on Indiana."

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.