BROWNSBURG, Indiana – It’s always a good day when you receive a cool one million bucks on the day of the biggest race of the year.
Such was the case for Lucas Oil Raceway on Monday. Prior to the start of final eliminations of the NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, track general manager Randy Simpson announced the track had recently received a prestigious grant from the State of Indiana to improve facilities around the massive motorsport complex just west of Indianapolis.
“The Indiana Economic Development Commission has awarded the racetrack a grant to go towards capital improvement projects in the facility,” Simpson said. “The projects can be related to on-track competition, the guest experience and improving fan amenities. We’re not ready to announce just what those plans are and how the funds will be used, but we’re very fortunate to be selected by the State of Indiana to be the beneficiary of the grant.
“The state recognizes motorsports and the contribution it has to the state. There are over 20,000 jobs tied to motorsports in the state, all 92 counties have some sort of involvement or hand in the motorsports industry. And then, with all the race fans here at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, there’s obviously a big impact upon tourism here. Motorsports is important to Indiana.”
Lucas Oil Raceway sits on 267 acres, about seven miles west of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The facility, owned by the National Hot Rod Association since 1979, includes a .686-mile oval for stock cars, sprint cars and midget cars; a 2.5-mile road course and a 4,400-foot drag strip.
“It’s a historic facility, we’re over 55 years old, and it’s a credit to NHRA and its business model and the way we continually reinvest all the way from the professional ranks all the way down to Junior Dragsters,” said the 27-year-old Simpson, who has overseen the track for nearly two years. “We really have a touch point at every stepping stone along the way from racers to race fans.
“To my knowledge, it’s a first for us to receive this and it’s a shot in the arm and certainly a tremendous jump start to get a big project started.”