"Man, they really want to save the Brickyard 400."
That was my first thought when I saw news of Indianapolis Motor Speedway trying to get the state of Indiana to help them fund up to $100 million in upgrades to the famed facility — upgrades that could include high-definition video boards, grandstand renovations, and — you guessed it — lights for night racing.
Every summer, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drops in on the Speedway for one of its biggest events of the season. Unfortunately, the oppressive Hoosier heat is also there to greet them, as well as the fans that choose to tough it out and head back home looking like cooked lobsters.
That particular factor has helped play a role in the Brickyard 400's notable attendance woes, which the Speedway has attempted to combat by making it the main event of a 'Super Weekend' that also features the Nationwide Series and GRAND-AM road racing. So, should the track ever get hold of a lighting system, one would assume the NASCAR contingent would be the main beneficiaries.
A night-time version could revitalize the stock car festivities at IMS (even if it fails to liven up the on-track product).
And the Indianapolis 500? "Ha," you might say. "The greatest race in the world…At night?!? Are you mad? It's tradition to run it in the day!"
Considering all the changes that have been made to the race in recent years, from changing start times to new qualification formats, who's to say that an Indy 500 under the lights won't go down one day?
If the proposed legislation in Indiana — which involves the creation of a "motorsports investment district" to collect taxes in an area around the Speedway that will help pay for the aforementioned upgrades — goes through, the possibility of shifting the '500' to a night race will be there if some of that money goes toward lights.
It would eventually prove irresistable. It's too interesting of an idea, and it stands a chance to be a very lucrative one, too.
And let's not forget, Indiana can be pretty darn hot in May, as well.
Traditionalists may be outraged at first, but perhaps enjoying the '500' in cooler conditions would change their tune a bit.