May 11, 2023

More than a Race: How the IMS Elevates the Hoosier State

In the heart of the Midwest lies the home of world-renowned, incredible racing events. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts many Hoosier traditions, spanning generations of race fans. IMS is an integral part of Indiana’s culture, bringing in visitors from around the world to positively impact the state’s economy. 

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is significant in both its physical footprint and its contributions to the economic development landscape. The racetrack is the largest sports venue in the world, hosting up to 400,000 fans. The Speedway also hosts the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series annually. In a typical year, its events generate more than $510 million annually for the Indiana economy.



For the sake of comparison, a study commissioned in 2000 by IMS showed the Indy 500 brings about twice as much revenue into the local economy as a Super Bowl. The increased tourism activity means that event goers need places to eat, sleep and they might buy some merch. That’s how the Indianapolis Business Journal estimated the race has an economic impact of more than $200 million on the region.



However, the Indy 500 isn’t the only event that puts the IMS on the map.

“From an economic impact standpoint, having the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard 400 and the Formula One races are like having multiple Super Bowls every year, an impact larger than any city in the United States enjoys from a sports venue by far,” Indiana University Professor Mark Rosentraub told

You can’t overestimate the influence this event has on the world stage. According to Fox59, the race witnessed a strong 10 percent increase in the number of international visitors at the 100th Indy 500 in 2016. It’s estimated that 300 million viewers spread across more than 200 countries tuned in to the May tradition.  A record-setting number of international media also attended in person. Reporters from Italy, Japan, Spain, Mexico and China produced stories about the race, its drivers and also the host city.

The venue isn’t just good for the economy; it’s also an example of how the private sector can further the common good. In February 2023, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced it received one of the sports world’s most prestigious sustainability awards, becoming the first venue in the world to do so.

In 2021, the Indianapolis 500 was certified a responsible event by the Council for Responsible Sport. This is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with a vision of a world where responsibly produced sports events are the norm. This was the first organizational certification awarded by the council, which reflects achievements in five categories: planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity and community legacy.

Credit toward the silver certification was achieved in all five categories and was guided by a social and environmental responsibility plan for the event that coordinated activities between departments and supporting partners.