Connected Podcast Episode 121: Insights from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Hi I’m Greg Uland with Reynolds and Reynolds and this is Connected. Uh today's a really exciting episode I've been looking forward to for a while I get to talk with Doug Boles who's the president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hopefully we get into a lot of different things Doug's got an interesting background but uh Doug thanks so much for joining.

Thanks for having me I love an opportunity to talk about the speedway, especially with the folks who kind of understand the automotive business as well as well.

Yeah yeah absolutely um so Doug if you don't mind a lot of stuff I want to touch on and you've been doing a lot of great things at the speedway and with Indy Car in general but um you have a fairly interesting background you know just kind of reading a little bit and you were an attorney and then you ran a couple of marketing firms you had a race team so if you don't mind just just share a little bit of your background and how you got to uh to kind of where you are.

Yeah it's a little bit of a winding road to get to where I am but but the one constant really as far as back as I can remember as a kid even is my passion for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy 500 in particular which means then you have a passion for Indy Car and so even as a kid growing up I really wanted to figure out a way to have Motorsport as part of what I did for a living and and my first job out of Butler University was uh working for um worked at the state house actually for some elected officials and then worked for the mayor of Indianapolis and I found ways even in those jobs to connect my passion for for Motorsport to uh the work that I that I was doing there and ultimately that led me to an opportunity about 10 years out of school where I was able to be a co-founder of an Indy Car team called Panther racing and in my time at Panther racing I was a co-owner and Chief Operating Officer there we actually won 15 races and two Indy Car championships with a driver named Sam Hornish we won races with Scott Goodyear Sam Hornish and and Thomas a Schecter and was a lawyer as well and ultimately when I sold my piece of the racing company I practiced law for a while and worked for some marketing firms but still in the Motorsports space I had to take on other business obviously because there wasn't enough there and then in 2010 uh the speedway hired me uh full time and I've been here for 13 years and in this role this role for 10 but but the biggest piece I think of it was and I tell young adults this when they get out of school if you're really passionate about something especially if you you don't have a family you don't have a mortgage you have the flexibility to be focused on what you really want to do then take those first few years out of school and really try and get yourself in a spot where you can where you can make a living with your passion and that's really what I try to stay focused on what could I do to make sure I had every opportunity to work in Motorsport and I walk in this place every day here at the speedway and and still so thankful I can't believe I get a key to this place and what I do for a living is is represent the greatest race course in the world.

Yeah yeah so you mentioned uh Sam Hornish Jr there Sam um I'm sure you know know or knew him certainly fairly well he was from outside of Archbold Ohio I grew up in a little bitty town called Pioneer Ohio which is about 20 miles from Archbold my uh my grandparents actually had an auto parts store in Archbold so really familiar with that area

Well you know when Sam drove for us and we won the first championship with him and in 2001 we did a big uh Defiance Archibald tour right where we took Sam back home with this merch trailer and and celebrated and all the radio stations and just the people that came out of uh you know came out of the woodwork in that area in Ohio and anytime you know anytime I'm heading up to Detroit now you drive from Fort Wayne through 24 up through uh Defiance and Archbold and all that I can't help but think about you know Sam Morris Jr and and just how much he meant to us at the team and and how fun it was to have that small town kid uh do such amazing things in an Indy Car

Yeah yeah so where did um I'm gonna ask where did that passion for racing in the Indy 500 come from I mean as a kid did you go to the race a lot is that where it came from was it a family thing did did you race like where did that passion come from

So the passion really came from my dad so my dad um was a circuit court judge for the bulk of my life growing up but prior his first job out of school I was working for the United States Auto Club and United States Auto Club actually sanctioned Indy Car racing in the 60s and my dad was they called him a yearbook editor back then because they didn't have a true PR guy but he went on the road and did PR and then built out the year-end yearbook and the point system and all of that so I grew up in a house where racing was just part of what we what we talked about all the time so I don’t think I had a choice I mean it was what my dad was into and and then ultimately I raced a little out of college um I still get in a race car now if I get an opportunity we had a vintage race here a few weeks ago and I drove a Kenny Wallace Cup car and actually got on the podium which was kind of cool for me and um more of an Open Wheel guy in terms of what I've driven but but it really comes from my dad and just growing up in a in a household where what we knew was was racing that's what we talked about and still to this day I talked to my dad every day and in the first the first question when when he picks up the phone is any racing news because my dad's my dad's uh 81 and and still loves the sport

No it's a lot of fun that's a lot of fun and and when you were a part of uh part of Panther racing um one of the other co-owners was Jim Harbaugh right yep all right so so are you um are you by default a Michigan fan at this point or uh you guys just acquaintances or what

No I'm definitely a Michigan fan because of Jim um so when we started when we started Panther racing he was the quarterback at the Colts right and one of our partners that was starting it was a Chevy dealer here named Gary Pedigo and Gary had a direct relationship with Jim and we got talking with Jim and he said hey I'd love to be part of that and so so the number of the car was number four because that was Jim's jersey number Jim was obviously here in the community and the neat thing about Jim is he was active active with us when he wasn't when they weren't in football season he was on the road with us which was great for our team for our guys to have sort of that team leader and then just over the time obviously getting to know Jim and and seeing seeing Jim at the racetracks or in the shop and then over time you know when Jim went on to pursue his football coaching career you know for a while I was a 49ers fan and then you end up being an abandoned and uh you know the great thing about Jim and I love this when I get a chance to talk about Jim you know what you see with Jim is really kind of what you get and I think as a player uh to to have somebody as your coach who you know is going to roll his sleeves up and and dig with you and fight with you that was the thing that I loved about having him on our team he could just rally the troops to get them excited about competing the pit stops the things we did over the wall uh and he was one of those blue-collar leaders that you just know is going to be right in the trenches with you and and uh and Jim's pretty outspoken in his thoughts and I know I know if you're an Ohio State fan you're probably not a Jim Harbaugh fan but but Jim is Jim's a pretty neat guy to you to continue to stay in touch with in fact one of the first things I did here at Speedway we had Jim right after he got in the Super Bowl of the 49ers he was actually our pace car driver for the Indy 500 which was a lot of fun in 2013.

yeah that is fun that is fun yeah I uh I I am a buckeye I went to Ohio State so it's uh that's all right though you know it's good finally it's nice to have that that rivalry heating back up again

for sure

it’s a lot of fun but no that's that's uh I I had read that and I thought that was really interesting that uh just that collection of folks that you talked about um and I think a few others as well but uh seems like seems like a lot of a lot of fun and it seems like you have pretty fond memories

Yeah it was good, great memories

yeah that's good and then if I'm if I'm reading the timeline correctly so after you kind of got out of Panther racing um then the the group unfortunately kind of became the Buffalo Bills right and was it like four years in a row finished second at the uh got the 500.

yeah so so that was after I so I I um sold my piece in 2007 um and then the team yeah the team had  some pretty good success if you think about the you didn't win the 500 but the number of seconds that they had and nearly wanted in one of our most historic races in our 100th anniversary race in 2011 with a rookie named J.R Hildebrand leading the race there at the end in fact leading the race until just a few hundred yards before star Finish Line uh you know one of our most uh epic uh finishes in our history one that I'm sure Jr and the team would love to have forgotten because Jr was leading an unfortunately crash coming out of the fourth turn on the last lap. What I love about that finish though two things the one thing I really love about that finish is he Jr crashes and the basically the right side of the car is gone it would have been very easy to just sort of give up but he figured out a way to keep the crash car against the outside wall keep his foot in the throttle and did everything he could with just two wheels to try and crosstalk finish line is and that's happening I'm thinking as the promoter how cool is this going to be that the winning car is going to have to be put on a record and brought to Victory Lane and then do you ever do you ever fix that car fitted one or leave it as it as a cross start Finish Line but the other thing is cool about it Dan Weldon who was one of the most popular winners in our history picks up his second win in that historic year unfortunately uh we lost Dan later in a car crash at the end of that year but the exciting part for me at that point in time was here's a guy that loves the speedway and now it's a two-time winner and as kind of the newly um anointed promoter of the speedway at that time I thought this is going to be fantastic this young guy that's going to be able to help me promote the Indy 500 for years to come and and unfortunately lost him but the win the way he celebrated it kind of changed the way that drivers celebrate the Indy 500 uh and you see it now just the passion that they have and excitement they have and they don't just drive in the Victory Lane this sort of way they all have their own little their own little stamp that they put on it and and that really started with Dan in 2011.

yeah yeah um well speaking of of promotion I did want to talk with you a decent amount about um 100 days to Indy so this was the the first year kind of doing that docu-series on the CW um I watched I thought it was fantastic I thought the team did a wonderful job but wanted to get into you know kind of the background the ideation um clearly I mean I'm assuming the the success uh of trying to survive had something to do with um you know wanted to go down this path but uh very curious from your perspective you know where where this came from and how you pulled it off how it came together

so a couple of things I think were really instrumental in it you're correct I mean for a period of time our team the IndyCar team Mark miles Penske entertainment president uh those of us here at the speedway we're trying to figure out how do we have that docu-series similar to drive to survive that formula one had had that really tells the story of the folks that are driving the cars but that story behind them so you can really get to get to know them so over the last couple of years we've really been trying to find the right partner to do that and then Sean Compton came along Sean Compton um with CW is a Hoosier goes to the Indy 500 every year and and Sean reached out and said hey I've got this great idea I'd love to work with some folks and see if we can't put something together with Vice and so Vice and CW really threw Sean Compton is what took us to the next level and got us comfortable with the whole programming and in between Vice and CW and Penske entertainment we were able to uh to pull that together and it was a short run right we had seven six or seven shows and the idea behind that was let's focus on on the Indy 500 are the lead up to it so it told the story of sort of preseason testing through the racing all the way up to the point that the Indy 500 took place looking back on it the Indy 500 was so dramatic this year especially with qualifying the way it ended and Graham Ray Hall not making it and then Stefan Wilson actually getting hurt the day after and Graham getting back in the show so we weren't really able to tell some of those really compelling stories in the detail we wanted to so we're already working with uh with CW and others about how do we continue that program certainly for next year but are there ways that we can carry it through through the rest of the season but it it was a series meaning the Indycar series looking for the right spot and you find that passionate leader in Sean Compton at CW who had a conversation with Vice and then it all just sort of came together and when when that happened from the moment that Sean called to the moment that that was agreed to and we're actually in production it was really just a handful of weeks to get that program together and we were really pleased with the way it came out

yeah you should be it was it was something to be proud of I think the team did a great job um how involved were you being you know kind of a uh a promoter as you you mentioned a minute ago and having a background in marketing I mean this this has to appeal to you on some level right I mean you kind of probably wanted to get involved I don't know if you had time but uh just curious how involved were you able to be

I think there were a lot of us here uh that were pretty involved with it obviously the Vice team is good at what they do and so and clearly CWS as well but they didn't know our sport so a lot of what we had to do was help educate them on the sport help them tell the stories Point them to some of those compelling stories that that we thought might play out over the course of this those hundred days leading up to the Indy 500 so you had a you had a team at IndyCar team here at the speedway and and Penske entertainment that were were involved involved in it you know I was really a really substantially involved in a couple of shows the kickoff show which started with our 100 day out party and then we did a really cool thing where uh Elio Castroneves actually placed his four-time winter brick uh in the in the yard of bricks and he and Roger Pinsky unveiled it so that was a key piece of one of our shows but then it was really a lot of our our boots on the ground here folks that were day-to-day helping work through the show get them the access that they needed and then there were a handful of us that actually saw the first run of each show to make sure that everything was accurate that the footage they used made sense we weren't trying we weren't editing content we were just making sure that so for example you might look at something go hey that that shot that you've got from the St Petersburg race isn't during the race that was a qualifying shot or just to make sure that everything was was authentic as it could be but the vice team did a fantastic job getting up to speed with virtually no understanding about our sport from the day that they started

what did you think of the balance between Sport and personality right because there was a lot of focus as you know probably intended on the drivers right and their their personal lives and their relationships with one another um would you what do you feel uh how did you feel that came across kind of that balance between the sport and the driver

so I thought it was I thought the balance was pretty good for the first season of doing the show like this I think as as we get further into it it feels to me like there may be a little bit less on track than there is but we had to set the stage for somebody that never understood our sport to understand the racing component of it and then because we were starting brand new some of the story lines you kind of guessed it what some might be but you weren't sure exactly where they were going to be so you were still waiting for some of the story lines to play out so you could begin telling the personality to the stories of the personalities behind it so I think as you get further into that kind of show you'll begin to see more of those personalities because those storylines are going to get to be a little bit stronger we were really fortunate I think in in the way we sort of tagged Scott McLaughlin as one of those storylines and that the way that first race played out was pretty strong obviously Joseph being a storyline and then winning the Indianapolis 500 uh was one that uh that played out in our favor as we go forward but a lot of that trying to tell those stories behind the once the drivers are out of the car I think it's what drives drive to survive does so well is they they connect people the people the audience to the drivers that they don't get a chance to see when they're outside the race car and I think that's what you know makes them feel like normal people and the challenges that they have and the battles that they have and that's what makes those shows so fun so I think in the future you see a little bit more of that maybe a little less on track

yeah yeah no it's great I think it uh it turned out really well and and you know you do have an Indy car right now a lot of just exciting Young Drivers they're talented they're likable um you know it really is as you're thinking about promotion and growing the sport um it's a really good time for that right now

well the Sport's so competitive I think one of the things that chaff Ryan the team over at IndyCar have done a good job on is is really giving uh you know the platform the cars an opportunity for not just the big teams to be successful but for the small teams to have a chance to win as well and then that when you you see that in the in the passes on track and and just sort of the the fact that you know 15 drivers probably can win every race it's not just a handful so that that does make it exciting and then you've got some really fun personalities outside of the race car and those folks uh you know that's that is what that what ties people to our Sport and gets them really interested in it and and our drivers understand right now that it's important for them to to have a social following outside outside the car to talk about what they're doing outside of the car to really cement those relationships with our fans so we have a we have a a group of drivers in The Paddock that are as bought in about promoting the series and our sport as the sport itself is

that's great that's great and you need it right and that's uh that's how you grow and it's it's makes it makes it better for everybody right it makes it better for the driver makes it better for the speedway makes it better for the fans it's just a better experience all the way around


that's great that you have that group

yeah and even the even the battles between the drivers right those personalities that may not get along as well I think that that's compelling as a promoter you know I remind people that people don't buy tickets to go watch people hug and love each other right they buy tickets to the root for somebody or root against somebody so when you have those rivalries inside inside The Paddock on the track in my mind it's important to sort of elevate those now do you have to get WWE with it not necessarily because some of that those are organic friction between the drivers that I but I think you have to highlight that because it does it does cause somebody to to buy that take out or to turn the TV on and watch the race because you want to root for or against somebody and and you you want it's just like voting right you go to vote for somebody or against somebody if it didn't matter one way or the other you stay at home and that's why for us our election day is every day we're on TV or every day we open the gates up to sell a ticket and we got to make sure we got people coming to the polls

I like that analogy I like it a lot um so talk a little bit Doug about you know we talked about 100 days and you're right leading up to the Indianapolis 500 which is is just a massive event I can't imagine even beginning to imagine everything that goes into into that right I mean you're probably planning already I'm quite certain for next year but um once you get to May right and this is something that that was fairly new to me honestly kind of this year really getting to experience the speedway a little bit more this year um when you're there and when you're really in Indianapolis it seems like as a city um it's the month of May it's not the Indy 500 it's it's the month of May um you know there's stuff going on on the track every day as a president of of this massive facility right the largest sporting venue really in the world I think correct me if I'm wrong there

no you're correct

yeah with with the culminating in the largest sporting event in the world right um certainly one of the fastest um what is that month like it just I mean I can't imagine you almost probably have to build up to it and and then you get through it and you got to Exhale at the end I would assume because you probably can't come up for air in the middle

we really say this is May it's what it's what it's about it's it's how do you own the month of May and we're really fortunate that we have a community that Embraces as a as it Embraces it as well so if you look around the city you know you've got these these front yards and porches and people just celebrate May through checkered flags and racing things you know and all that one of the things that I I started doing this year as I was driving to work if if I had a minute and somebody's front porch had you know their racing Flags out I would write a handwritten note and take it up to their front door and and knock on the front door if they weren't there I'd leave it there just said hey thanks for making the Indy special because that's really what makes it so special are the people uh you know the way they celebrate May alongside us but we really start planning our so this year's may we started planning about 18 months before we're deep in planning the 108th running in the Indy 500 which isn't until next may but but you have to do that when you're when you are the second largest city in the state of Indiana on race day inside our racetrack so you have to do all the things that small City would do not just put on a race but all those other things whether it's law enforcement it's hospitals and medical programs all the things you have to provide 300 000 plus people so we're starting to work to work through all of those uh long ahead of time but the preparation is what allows us once we get to race day or or the month of May to just go ahead and execute when we're in that execution mode sure things that you don't plan on happen but when you're prepared you're able to deal with those a lot better A lot quicker a lot more efficiently because we prepared so much and and when you've done it 107 times and it will make the 108th better just because a lot of it are you know we know sort of how to execute um there are always there are always those things that come up but for sure um you aren't you aren't coming up for breath I love the month of May you get through it and then what's crazy is the minute the checker flag falls for the next 500 hours that's our ticket renewal period so so we get the most tickets that we'll sell um happens in those in those basically 21 days after the Indy 500 so our ticket team is flat out worrying about renewals and getting everybody set you know if we were to have the Indy 500 today and didn't sell another ticket if if only the tickets were purchase today we would still be the largest supporting event in the world without the benefit of the next 10 months to continue to sell tickets because that's how many tickets get renewed in those 500 hours and then we're on track with something on track at the Indy 500 or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 150 days a year so like right now as we're doing this there's two seaters going on where people are coming and riding two seaters so we've got on track activity so our real only breathing time I guess is probably December um and then we once you get to January 1st it might as well be May and you're ready to roll again

no that's a lot of fun that's a lot of fun it sounds like um uh I don't know just just non-stop and and controlled chaos but so as you're in your 10 years as president of the speedway um you know you mentioned things come up when you're executing what's what's one of those curve balls that stands out to you what's one of those things where you just go man I I didn't expect it like I couldn't have seen that coming by any stretch

well some of the stuff is when you sit back after it's happened you you know most of it you could have said I I could have seen that coming so one of the biggest ones for me was I hadn't been I hadn't been announced as president yet I was Chief Operating Officer I knew that the president situation was coming uh so it's 2013 Indy 500 and it was right after the Boston bombings the Boston bombing had happened and big events were thinking about how do we make sure you know everybody's safe and one of the things that we do that's relatively unique um in sporting events is we allow folks to bring their coolers in first of all we couldn't feed everybody if we had to feed all 300 000 plus so so those coolers help us actually execute during the day so we were trying to figure out how do we manage through that piece that's a really important piece for our customers uh to be able to bring that cooler in with their their drinks their food you know and part of that's their tradition so how do we manage through that getting folks in the gates at the same time making sure we're getting people through safety safely so it was really the first year that we were paying attention into what was in people's coolers checking them trying to set that up um and we just underestimated how long it was going to take and then on that morning for the 500 it was actually a little bit cold and it rained a little bit so a lot of people didn't come in as soon as the gates open so people waited to see what was happening with the weather and we had this big rush of folks like 10 o'clock leading into the 500 I got a call from our folks in Pagoda command which is on the ninth floor of the Pagoda where we have all our law enforcement and our folks and we have all the the cameras there and they were panicked because so many of our gates were so backed up and we were worried that we weren't going to get everybody in for the start of the Indy 500 which we didn't um and it was one of those ones we're looking back we should have overstaffed not really understanding how long it was going to take not taking into account the potential of how weather might impact when people show up it is May in Indiana we should have known that um so we made some mistakes there um that we didn't think were going to be a problem but as you look back and you and you do postmortem on what happened we probably should have been better prepared so that was my you know my first experience as Chief Operating officers dealing with that uh on race day and and that that was definitely a challenge but we we have things like that you know all the time weather is the biggest one you just don't know when weather's coming and then how is it going to impact the on track product and then how quickly do you need to let people know to get them out of the facility we're not we're not a facility that was designed in an era when you said okay we need to think about places for folks to go I mean our track was built in 1909 many of our grandstands were built shortly after World War II I mean they've been rebuilt but they're in the same locations um so those those are the challenges for me the curveballs um that become become a challenge for you you gotta you have to work through

yeah yeah so Indy 500 obviously huge huge event but like you said there's things going on throughout the entire year and we're here in kind of mid-July so kind of halfway between the Indy 500 and Brickyard weekend uh so I guess to the to the tune of you know things don't slow down for you uh let's talk about Brickyard coming up a little bit what's uh what's that look like for you how are things going there and um uh you know obviously it's a unique event uh for for the NASCAR series certainly with the with kind of the road course but uh I don't know I'll talk about that a little bit

yeah it's it is definitely a unique event it though what makes it really unique it's the only race track where you can go and on the same weekend see Indy Car and NASCAR Cup on the same weekend on the same Racetrack and that's one of the things that you know maybe looking back at two two there were two great things that happened out of 2020. one of them when we were closed and we couldn't have customers Roger Pinsky said let's invest in things that we don't have time to do because we have people on property normally the rest of the year so we were able to make all kinds of improvements to the facility uh Roger you helped us use that time in a way that really benefited us and the second one was NASCAR needed a place to get races in by the end of the year Indy Car needed to figure out a way to do the same thing and so NASCAR and Indy Car coming together and saying let's try and do this on the same weekend at the same racetrack so the first year it was Indy car and Xfinity on the road course and then we converted the track to the oval uh the overnight and then we did cops still on the oval and then since 21 so 21 22 and now 23 we've done all of them on the road course so that's that's been it's kind of fun a unique way for us to introduce Indy Car to NASCAR fans and introduce NASCAR to Indy Car fans you know and there is this friction between the two it's less so now but as a promoter I need to kind of remind people that both series have these amazing talented drivers and they both have their own unique way of of appealing to fans and if I have an opportunity to introduce one or the other to NASCAR or Indy Car to NASCAR it's good for the sport even if they don't ultimately continue to follow those Sports I just I want to try and get rid of some of the friction in the sport between the two so that's been a fun thing about the weekend what's unique maybe about this weekend is we continue to work with NASCAR I I'm not sure that this is a weekend that stays forever where you have the two together so I remind people if you want to see Indy Car NASCAR together on the same weekend you know this could be your last opportunity to do that we haven't decided yet whether we go back to the oval if we went back to the oval obviously we're not going to run an Indy Car race on the oval and the challenge of converting the racetrack is so steep I don't think we can do that bifurcated weekend uh in the future 2020 allowed us to do it because we didn't have fans in the infield we didn't have fans at all so it really made it a lot easier so I'm hoping that if you want to see NASCAR on the road course at the speed way and you want to see Indy cars alongside it this is a weekend that I hope people enjoy and come out to see

all right so what I'm hearing is 2024 Brickyard 400 is back on the oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

it's definitely one of the things things we're talking about we haven't made that commitment yet but but it is definitely one of the things we talk about or we're talking about so I do think we we're within you know it could be this year or certainly in the next couple years at that time where you know where where this weekend of Indy Car and NASCAR together just isn't quite uh isn't quite working yeah

but it's interesting and it's Unique so to your point if you want to see it uh do it now do it now 100 like That um so uh let's talk a little bit while I got you Doug too because one of the things that's also unique about Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the golf course right and it's got holes inside the track um you know you go under the track to uh golf those holes so um you know I know you've been out there I think if I if I saw correctly you uh you've been swimming in the the pond there um so tell me about the course a little bit um you know it's it's a great course uh but but if I remember right too a lot of improvements in the last handful of years so

yeah and that's another place for Roger's been really great at allowing us to invest in the in the golf course Eddie Rickenbacker who was an IndyCar driver in the teens and then uh World War One fighter Ace um ended up buying the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the 1920s and really all the place did was have one race a year the Indianapolis 500 so they were only active in the month of May and one of the things he wanted to do was try and keep something more active year-round here so in in the late 20s Eddie Rickenbacker had our first Golf Course put in and that Golf Course has ranged from an 18 hole course to a 27 hole course and then back to an 18 hole course our current one was designed by Pete Dye in the 90s and then we've had the PGA the LPGA the Senior PGA The Beatles have played our course um and what's unique about it now is it's 18 holes now 14 outside the racetrack and holes seven through ten those four holes are in the inside of the racetrack and that's basically really open every day it's a public course and it's always voted one of the top courses in the state of Indiana and one of the one of the best country courses in the in the country it's a great course to play and it's really fun to play when there's cars on track just because of the just because of that Ambiance of you're at a racetrack and while you're at hole 17 off there's cars behind you and when your whole a ticketing off you've got cars either going down the home or down the front stretch or down the back stretch and it's a it's a beautiful Course Rogers really allowed us to invest more and more in it we've reduced our number of rounds from about 20 000 rounds a year to 15 000 because he wants the course to look really nice so we spend a lot of time trying to make the course look good does have a lake in the infield I um I swam in it as a way to help promote the fact that the U.S Olympic swimming trials in 2024 will be here in Indianapolis so a year out from that I I swam just to just to just kind of help promote that that swimming event but uh not not some place I want to swim in every day

now are you a competitive swimmer I mean do you uh

yeah I swam all through college um and then once I got done with uh swimming in college you know other than a couple of Masters meets here and there right out of college I've uh uh I haven't done much competing but I still try and swim I love swim outside and uh I try and drink it in the water every once in a while

nice that's great that's great it's good good hobby you know keeps you keeps you active and um it's a tough one you know a lot of people don't realize you know if you're going to go any sort of distance in the water um you got to be ready for it it uh you can't just jump it's not like uh and running's the same way but you know you can you can kind of I feel like push your way through running a little bit more with swimming it's like either either you you've built up or you haven't and that's pretty much it

no it's it's very true but it's it's a it's a like running it's a great sport I mean it's a team sport because you get to run or swim with a team but it's also very individual so you can compare you know your improvement really is based on what you can do your time so you have a lot of control over your success but it still gives you that team you know that team aspect as well and it does does create some discipline both running and swimming create a lot of discipline if you want to be competitive in it

yeah yeah and you mentioned the uh the the swimming time trials are they doing that at Lucas Oil Stadium is that where that's they are yeah that's what's so so we one of the cool things about the city of Indianapolis and is why the 500 works so well every year is our city is so committed to helping promote events I mean it's a full-on community a community thing and the Indy 500 doesn't it isn't successful without everybody in this community even if they don't come to the race buying in and helping promote it and and that's how we do all our events here so we have a local organizing committees that are volunteers that are really helping put the events on so I'm the I'm the co-chair of the the ticket sales and marketing uh committee to really Drive uh sales and excitement for that and we're going to build a couple of pools inside Lucas Oil Stadium uh it will be really really cool to see that come together and then so for uh for nine nights begin in June 15th next year we'll be we'll be getting our team ready to send off uh send off to Paris you know in in 1924 um the the Olympic trials were here in Indianapolis at the pool on the north side of Indianapolis opposite no longer exists so it's 100 100 and the anniversary of that first time that the trials were held in Indy so we're excited about it should have about 300 000 people over those nine days that'll come watch watch the Olympic trials

that's pretty cool how does that look logistically how do you put a pool inside of a football stadium like what what do they do does the the turf roll like I don't know how does it how does it happen What do you do

so so our Sports corporation uh which was established in the 80s is a group of folks that work full-time to promote and build events here in the in the city of Indianapolis and they've been actively involved in swimming for quite some time we actually had a swimming meet in Cambridge Field House several years ago so we've gone through that process and then we have some great people that are on the local organizing committee on the Ops and event side that's their living is how do you put on events so so we've got a great group of people who've helped design it build it we're going to take water from the White River and actually clean it up put it in there and then when we're done that water goes back into the White River cleaner than we then we took it out it's going to be it's going to be fun just a lot of smart people who understand how to put events on and and build pools and and you know we love we love to do things kind of uh different than anyone else here in this in in the city of Indianapolis and I think it's going to be uh it's going to be outstanding I can't wait to I can't wait to swim a few laps in that pool it's gonna be really special

that sounds that sounds fantastic great well Doug what uh you know I obviously could probably talk to you for for hours if not days here I appreciate you taking time but I want to be respectful your time obviously um anything we haven't had the chance to talk about that you want to touch on before we before we wrap up

no I think for me that just you know I'm pretty fortunate to have been in this job uh for 10 years and and one of the things that I think is really really important and what makes the Indy 500 special is just the way that that we connect to our customers and we don't get an opportunity to do this without customers who believe in your brand and and we aren't and we have to offer them something that makes that experience really special to them so when you have 330 000 people like we had here for this past Indianapolis 500 uh so many of them don't watch another race the rest of year their racing experiences there one time a year that they come to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500 so it's this big event with all kinds of opportunities to experience it in a completely different way if I'm sitting in turn one my experience is completely different from the person who's sitting in turn three because it's a mile as a crow flies to get to that grandstand from there so so you have to really think about um you have to think about how do you put this event on Through The Eyes of 300 000 plus people and for us I think one of the things in this in this world today we forget that Personal Touch that one-on-one hand-to-hand combat in the trenches make making sure that each and every customer has a great experience and the only way you can do that is by talking to and listening to those customers and that's maybe been the best part the most fun part about my job is how do I how do we as an organization you know communicate so that the 300 000 people here really believe that this is their racetrack it is their event um and it's it's a privately owned company that's that 300 000 people believe is theirs and trying to keep that feeling uh in this event has been one of the most challenging things but one of the most fun things that uh that you know that I do every day

yeah no that's great that's great so you mentioned turn turn one and turn three so I gotta ask you know what's your favorite vantage point to watch the race right because turn one I mean those cars are coming in at 220 coming straight she's coming straight at you and then they hit that hit that bank so what's your favorite vantage point

you know it's every night on my way just to say hey we don't get to run the 108th running in the Indy 500 and you know 325 days without folks like you um and when you have that conversation with people you get a chance to say okay so where do you sit how did you how did you get introduced to the speedway what what is it about your seats and it's amazing how it doesn't matter where people see they think they think they have the best seats in the world because there's so much about the experience who they sit with who introduced them if I were saying you know you could pick anywhere you want to sit it's like B Penthouse maybe a lot of people like e Penthouse but if you get further into e Penthouse The View isn't quite as good as as B Penthouse so B Penthouse which is turn one uh Upper Deck you can you've got video boards you can see you see them coming in out of pits you see them coming down the front stretch uh that's probably what I would say but each one of them has their own unique experience people in turn three wouldn't leave turn three for all the money in the world because they think hey I know coming down the back stretch on the last lap going into turn three I can tell you who's got got a shot to win which which you may not have known when you saw him coming in turn one so um you know I'm gonna turn one guy if I had to pick but the thing that's so unique about this place is everybody's seats um you know they'll tell you they got the best seats in the venue

yeah 100 all right well Doug Bowles president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway thank you so much for uh for hopping on and talking today it was a great conversation and uh we'll have to do it again sometime yeah well thanks for having me thanks for the partnership love working with you guys and I look forward to uh the rest of this season and certainly the 108th running the Indy 500 next May

absolutely thanks so much Doug

thank you well that was a really fun conversation with Doug Bowles president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did if you haven't checked out 100 days to India definitely recommend it it's on the CW on Demand right now um also as Doug said get your tickets to Brickyard weekend if you haven't done that and uh also we'll be at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Reynolds retail Summit uh coming up here in September September 25 and 26th so if you haven't registered for that yet please do so at before we Hop Off don't forget you can watch or listen to episodes of connected on YouTube apple and Spotify podcasts and make sure to hit subscribe so you're notified every other week when new episodes are released thanks so much and we'll see you in two weeks