If I wonder how 2019 seemed to go by so quickly, I only need to look back over the past 12 months to understand that it’s because we were so busy! As we prepare for another successful year in 2020, I want to share what you have helped us accomplish up to this point.
We were so pleased to debut our much-anticipated exhibit, Mario Andretti: ICON, last May. It featured a full retrospective of Andretti’s incredible career, from Sprint Car racing in the early 1960s, to four career IndyCar championships and Formula 1 World Championship glory, and his busy life today as an ambassador for the NTT IndyCar Series.
Mario made several appearances at the Museum and spoke to a sell-out crowd as part of our Distinguished Speakers Series, which also offered evenings with Tony Stewart, USAC stars, Chip Ganassi and Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Bobby Rahal, and Michael Andretti in 2019. As part of our commitment to oral history, Distinguished Speaker Series events are recorded for our archives and are also available to view on our IMS Museum YouTube channel.
Our members-only Fuel Up Fridays continues to be a popular morning program, as does Cars & Coffee, our monthly seasonal car meet, with over 2,000 cars participating in 2019! Race Shop Tours made stops at Dallara IndyCar Factory, Schumacher Racing, and Andretti Autosports and we introduced a new (and sold out) program called Over the Ropes, Under the Hood that let participants get up close to vehicles on the Museum floor.
We had a record year for grounds tours with buses and trams making hundreds of laps around the track. We expanded golf cart tour program, which builds upon was added to our popular Kiss the Bricks and VIP grounds tours. We welcomed thousands of visitors during the month of May, including those who participated in the annual Indianapolis Historic Racing Exhibition and the Pace Car Reunion.
We were thrilled to learn this past summer that we received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to purchase new storage furniture to better preserve our silver trophy collection. We also received grants from the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation and the Arts Council of Indianapolis to purchase art storage units. We look forward to implementing these projects in early 2020.
Already underway are improvements to our Offy engine Parts Petting Zoo in the Museum. Thanks to a grant from Indiana Humanities and a partnership with Ganassi Racing, we’ve installed new interpretive rails around our popular cutaway car exhibit. Be looking for more to come in this area!
We engaged in several new endeavors at the Museum in 2019 and we couldn’t have done this without our generous partners. We thank Payless Liquors, Rick’s Café Boatyard and numerous distilleries and distributors for our inaugural Mules at the Museum fundraising event this past October. We also extend thanks to the Indy Racing Experience for its Spirits on Main Halloween party that benefitted the Museum. Much appreciation also goes to Bank of America for offering their popular Museums on Us® program that allows their credit card holders to visit the Museum for free. We are pleased they renewed this opportunity in 2020.
Finally, we would be remiss not to acknowledge and thank Bank of America for serving as presenting sponsor of our current feature exhibit, From the Vault. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, we hope you’ll visit soon. This exhibit features rare and significant pieces from our collection, including one-of-a-kind race cars, automobiles, trophies, artwork, and artifacts. From January 2020 through the exhibit closing, the curation team will add and replace five new cars each month. That’s an additional 20 rarely seen cars rotating through the exhibit! Don’t miss your chance to see these rare pieces from our collection before they go back in the basement when the exhibit closes on April 20.
New this year, we are offering opportunities to “Adopt-an-Exhibit,” to help us cover some of the costs associated with getting each of these vehicles prepped and ready for public exhibit, as well as regular maintenance, which is critical to extending the life of our collection.
I hope you will follow us on social media (@IMSMuseum) and keep checking our Special Events webpage to keep track of upcoming events.
From all of us at the Museum, Happy New Year! I look forward to seeing you at the Museum in 2020.
Betsy Smith, Executive Director Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum