Roger Penske announces upgrades, changes for IMS and 104th Indy 500

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) President Doug Boles, Owner Roger Penske and IndyCar CEO Mark Miles announced improvements and investments in the Indianapolis 500 and Month of May events Friday.

We are 100 days away from the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24 and IMS says the plan is to produce a "legendary" Month of May.  Here are some of the improvements:

The largest purse in Indianapolis 500 history

The purse for the Indy 500 will grow by $2 million to more than $15 million, boosting the prize pool for NTT INDYCAR SERIES teams and drivers.

Improvements to the qualifying format and television schedule

The qualifying weekend for the race on Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17  will feature a variety of changes to its format and broadcast.

  • Multiple attempts will return to the Last Row Shootout, expanding it to 75 minutes: Previous versions of the Shootout featured one attempt per car. IMS says feedback from fans prompted them to make this change, which will create more drama as drivers try to seize one of the three final spots in the field.
  • A boost in turbocharger level: This will create higher speeds this year during qualifying sessions. Turbocharger boost will increase horsepower by 45 HP this year.
  • Expanded weekend TV schedule: Coverage of qualifications on Saturday and Sunday will be televised. More broadcast details will be available soon.

New sponsors

Six new sponsors are coming to the NTT IndyCar Series and IMS in 2020: Pennzoil, Verizon, Snap-on Tools, DEX Imaging, "Road & Track" magazine and Global Medical Response.

Multimillion-dollar fan experience investment

IMS says starting with this year's GMR Grand Prix, fans will experience many new upgrades.

  • Technology upgrades: More than 30 additional large-screen video boards will be added, including 24 along the Paddock seating. The Paddock screens will bring race action and vital information to an additional 25,000 fans. All seven large infield big-screen monitors will now have a running order addition.
  • IMS Media Wall: This video board, measuring 100 feet wide by 20 feet tall, will be installed at the base of the Pagoda facing the Pagoda Plaza as a cornerstone of a plan to transform the popular gathering area for fans. It will also provide data-driven race insights to fans from NTT.
  • 5G service: Verizon will bring their 5G Ultra Wideband network to IMS. It will be he first motorsports facility with commercial 5G service, which is expected to enhance fan experience and track operations.

Infrastructure improvements

  • Pedestrian traffic improvements: IMS says pedestrian traffic on Georgetown Road will be widened by two lanes to make ingress and egress easier for more than half of the venue's Race Day customers.
  • Restrooms: More than 125 restrooms are being renovated inside the track.
  • Parking: New pavement will be added to the Parcel B lot near the IMS Main Gate to improve the parking experience and create a cleaner look for the "front door" of the facility.
  • Victory Lane: The winning driver and team of the Indianapolis 500, Grand Prix and Brickyard 400 will receive higher honors, as the winner's car will be elevated to the same level as the Victory Podium after each race. IMS says this will give fans a better vantage point for pictures and social media sharing.

Atmosphere

IMS says there will be "detail-oriented" enhancements across the facility.

Night light signage will be installed over Gates 1 and 2, while IMS will assume responsibility for the beautification project along Crawfordsville Road. Fans will notice fresh paint and new signage on more than 50 concession stands inside IMS, picnic tables added throughout the grounds for more gathering space for families and friends, and the placement of more than 230 racing-themed flags around the facility and Crawfordsville Road.

"This is the Racing Capital of the World," Penske said. "It is on par with some of the most historic sporting institutions in this nation and across the globe, from Churchill Downs to Augusta National. Today, we're announcing a meaningful investment in our fan experience that will produce rapid results. It's part of a long-term plan to ensure the legendary status of the Speedway continues to grow and evolve for generations to come.

IMS says these changes will be completed before the gates open for the Month of May on May 8. Tickets are available at IMS.

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