IMS Sustainability- Small Steps Now, Bigger Steps Later

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced sceral sustainability initiatives on Earth Day last month. The initiatives were bold and well thought out. Still, I wondered how and when the plan would go into action. My worries were unfounded. Roger Penske means what he says. This morning I took part in a guided tour of the Speedway, much of it behind the scenes, to get a look at the initiatives that are already in motion. I was impressed with what IMS has put into place in less than a month.

We visited four areas- transportation, food, Firestone, and merchandise. Doug Boles took time from his busy schedule to talk about what the fans see.

Electric Vehicles

All tires arrive at the track via electric powered trailers. The speedway uses 12 ev trailer trucks produced by Daimler. The vehicles have a range of 200 miles.

A charging station is in place in the museum overflow parking lot behind the turn 2 viewing mounds.

The station has a 150 kilowatt charge. In three hours the vehicle will have an 80% charge.

Tyrone Garrison, IMS vice president of facilites, said, “The Speedway is known for innovation on the track. Now we are looking at innovation off the track.”

Garrison said that at some point the track will have to look at charging stations for fans’ electric cars.


The Speedway serves a lot of food during events. n addition to the concession stands, the suites cater for their patrons. A lot of food goes unused. Gleaners Food Bank takes the unused food and ingredients. Some of it goes to second Helpings where it becomes meals for non-profit agencies around Indianapolis. Packaged goods go to Gleaners’ food pantry.

Joseph Slater, Gleaners COO, said that they will rescue “a couple tons” of food during the month of May.

Uneaten food and other edible ingredients that can’t be used for new meals or the pantry are composted.

The compostable material is taken offsite to be converted to compost.

Logan Waddle said that eventually IMS will do their own composting on site and use the material for landscaping at IMS. He expects to compost 10,000 pounds of food waste this season.


Firestone tires are changing colors. The softer compound, known as “reds” will soon be “greens.” Cara Krstolic explained the new compound made of rubber from a more sustainable material than rubber trees.

The guayule shrub produces rubberlike material. the entire bush can be used to produce the material. Shrubs grow in the United States, reach maturity in 3-4 years and requires 50% less water than a rubber tree.

Cara Krstolic explains the new Firestone compound

The tires will be used during the pit stop competition May 27. Firestone has 26 sets available for the Carb Day contest. The tire will make its race debut at the Music City Grand Prix August 5-7 in Nashville.

Seeing this tire on track will be disconcerting for a lap or two.

Krstolic told me that a street course was chosen for the tire’s first outing because they wanted to start on a small scale and a street course puts the lowest load on tires.

The guayule tire will have a test at IMS in October. Krstolic said the plan is for the tire to be full time in the NTT Indycar series in 2024.


Souvenirs also have moved toward sustainability. An electric merchandise minitruck with shirts, totebags, and drink made of recycled material, can be found at various points in the pagoda plaza.

The T-shirts contain 40% recycled plastic bottles, about six and a half 16 ounce bottles per shirt. Using recycled materials saves 1.9 gallons of wate and 1.9 kilowatt hours of electricity per item.

1,000 Recycle Bins

IMS president Doug Boles spoke to us about the green recycle bins which have a prominent presence throughout the grounds this year. One of the 1,000 recycle bins is next to virtually every trash can. Boles said he is amazed at the number of fans who have commented about the green bins this week.

Boles also talked about reducing the carbon footprint of the entire event, something Penske is committed to.

Boles talked about the carbon offset program that fans can opt in to when they renew their tickets. The Speedway will also offset their use.

Boles told me that the track is working toward a wider use of mass transportation to the race. he expects 6,000-7,000 people to use the shuttle buses this year.

Many corporations make Earth Day proclamations about all the great environmental protection steps they plan to take. Many times, that is the last we hear of those measures. I’m glad to see that IMS is following through with their plans.