SPEEDWAY, Ind. — It’s the start of a new era at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum as the museum prepares for its first major renovation in nearly 40 years.
“We are looking forward to it and supporting it,” said Egils Vigants, one of the museum visitors. “It’s going to be great!”
And IMS president, Doug Boles agrees, it’s going to be an incredible transformation.
“I am just looking forward to the refresh and the ability to walk people through the timeline of what the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is about and all the way up to the cars today,” said Doug Boles, who is also a member of the IMS museum board of directors.
But before the renovations can get underway, some of the most historic cars in motorsports history have to be moved to an off-site storage facility.
The process begins by labeling each vehicle then a team of workers will carefully push each car one by one onto a truck to be transported to an off-site facility.
And, with how the collection has grown in recent years, it is going to take several weeks.
“Our collection over the years has grown to about 200 vehicles and they range from 1896 all the way to 2011,” said Jason Vansickle, the Vice President of Curation and Education at the museum. “[There is] a mix of Indianapolis 500 cars, Indiana-built passenger cars, non-500 race cars, a mix of pace cars and things like that.”
Vansickle said the collection will be moved in two phases. The first 140 vehicles will be moved over the next two weeks, and the remaining vehicles in early November.
After everything is safely moved, that’s when the much-anticipated renovations will begin.
“This transformation we are going through, and the reimagination of the museum experience will really benefit our collection long-term, not only the care of it but also the displays we will do,” Vansickle said.
The $89 million dollar project will span over 18 months. The plan is to add new immersive and interactive elements throughout the museum to engage fans of all ages.
“This building has been here since the mid-1970s and hasn’t really changed, so the idea that the building is going to change and the experience is going to be different for the fans, especially younger fans to get them engaged and love with our sport, I am excited about that. And it’s still going to tell those stories for folks like me who have been around for 40, 50, 60 years around the Indy 500,” Boles said.
And race fans are already counting down the days until those big renovations are complete.
“We will be here in May 2025 to come and see my wife’s dad’s winning car, Johnny Parsons in 1950. That’s always important to us, and revisit all of the cars we’ve grown to know and love and understand the history of them. That’s what we will be doing when we first come here,” Vigants said.
The museum is still open for the next several weeks. It will close to the public on November 5, 2023, and remain closed until April 2025, ahead of the 109th running of the Indy 500.