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Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IUPUI partner to digitally preserve IMS history

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind -- The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the University Library Center for Digital Scholarship at IUPUI is working to preserve pieces of history from the IMS Museum.

Thanks to a new partnership, items from the IMS museum collection of racing memorabilia will be digitally scanned and uploaded into a database.

Workers from IUPUI’s University Library and School of Informatics have scanned several items using structured white light scanners. The scanners can capture every aspect of any item with near pinpoint accuracy, which then allows fans to view or download, or even create a 3-d printed model of the piece. Some of the items scanned include a helmet worn by Mario Andretti, racing suits, and hood emblems from some of the early Indy 500 winners.

“So you’re getting a true representation of what that artifact really is,” head of digitization services for the Center of Digital Scholarship’s Jenny Johnson said.

Johnson says scanners can often take up to 3 hours to fully capture some of the items.

“Not only are we preserving and providing access through a website, but there’s also the opportunity to do augmented and virtual reality. So you can actually put the goggles on and walk through a room that has those different pieces in it,” she said.

IMS officials say the project sprang from the need to bring the museum experience into the 21st century.

“We’re trying to move from a very static era to something that a more interactive and digital and can engage our guests,” executive director for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation Betsy Smith said.

Currently only a limited number of items have been digitized, however Smith says its possible that the whole collection could eventually be done. She also added that there has been discussion on incorporating the digital scans into a simulated experience.

“We’re very fortunate that over the last 61 years a lot of items have been acquired by the foundation, and now it’s our job to bring those to life,” she said.