The crowning touch of Project 100, the $90 million-plus refurbishment of 107-year-old Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was ceremonially completed by reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon at the newly designed Gate 1 entry to the facility.
Dixon climbed aboard a basket lift this afternoon and removed the checkered flag that waved atop the IMS wing and wheel logo atop the old Gate 1, then went rode up a scissor lift to bolt in the final letters spelling “Indianapolis Motor Speedway” above the new, grander main entryway. The commemorative moment signified Gate 1’s opening in time for this weekend’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the ensuing and epic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
“This is an important moment for us,” said J. Douglas Boles, IMS president. “We’ve been working since September to try and get this Project 100 completed. Gate 1 is where hundreds of thousands of people are going to come through here, really beginning tomorrow through the 100th Running of the Indy 500 on May 29.”
The signage above the old Gate 1 was removed by crane and placed in storage. The new Gate 1 opens up as a welcome to fans at the roundabout that connects 16th Street, Crawfordsville Road and Main Street adjacent to the IMS administration building.
Dixon, a 16-year Indianapolis resident, four-time series champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner, could appreciate the history of the moment.
“The mecca of motor racing is right here with the Indianapolis 500 and the Angie’s List Grand Prix,” the 35-year-old Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver said. “I feel very privileged to be part of something like this and kind of out with the old and in with the new.
“The improvements they’ve made to the speedway have been just tremendous and a big thank you to the Hulman George family, Doug and everybody involved that’s made this possible. … For me to put a couple bolts in and take a flag off, I just feel very privileged to be a part of it.”
Project 100 is a major capital improvement initiative to create fan-focused experiences and entertainment options to further establish IMS as an iconic sports and entertainment facility. Begun in 2013, the project has included a new scoring pylon, high-definition video boards and new track fencing around the facility and reconstruction of the main grandstand along the frontstretch of the 2.5-mile oval to include additional rows of seating, elevators and stadium seats.