Future May Be Bright For Indy
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on July 27, 2013 | 9:44 A.M. EST
An estimated 80,000 fans showed up for last years race, a far cry from the 260,000 that jammed the track as recently as 2006. (Photo: Getty Images)
Speedway officials have confirmed the installation of lights is very much on the radar as part of an improvement program planned for the next several years at the historic speedway. Once the system is installed, it’s expected the Brickyard 400 will shift to prime time as early as the 2015 season.
The idea has sparked a great deal of conversation throughout the garage area if a Brickyard 400 under the lights might be the cure for an event that although is still considered a crown jewel by many in the sport has suffered a tremendous drop in attendance since its 1994 debut.
An estimated 80,000 fans showed up for last years race, a far cry from the 260,000 that jammed the track as recently as 2006.
"It is one of the projects we have identified as a potential,'' Doug Boles, new Indianapolis Motor Speedway president said earlier this year. "That is a good indicator. As we go through this process and better define what makes sense, we will know.
"But it's important enough for consideration that [lights are] on that list.''
Some believe lighting up IMS and possibly moving the Brickyard 400 to the lead spot of the Chase might be the cure at least in the short term.
“Saturday night would be key,” said Jeff Gordon. “From what I’ve seen from other night races we go to, fans seem to enjoy it. Sunday races can get a little tricky with travel and all those things. It seems like when it’s a Saturday night, it’s an exciting thing for fans and competitors. I’ve not seen a night race not be a win-win for everyone.”
However, not everyone is completely on board with illuminating the Brickyard.
"You're going to need nuclear power to light this place," said Clint Bowyer. "You're going to have to shut down downtown to have enough power to light this track. It's huge."
Bowyer is one who would prefer racing in the daylight at Indianapolis as a nod to both the track’s traditional as well as the on track product.
“That's what is important about this track in my opinion," he said. "It's always been a day race. I don't see why it shouldn't be.
“It's always been a day race. I don't see why it shouldn't be. Grip level would be really well in a night race. I think, at least in a day race on Sunday you slip and slide around quite a bit here and create some exciting racing. So, I'm happy with a day race here."