‘History on Wheels’ Hitting the Road to Showcase Hoosier Auto History

I was granted a sneak peek Thursday of the Indiana Historical Society’s new traveling exhibit, History on Wheels. Housed inside a 53-foot double expandable semi-trailer, the one-of-a-kind exhibit celebrates Indiana’s incredible contributions to the automobile industry within 1,000 square feet of indoor museum space.

Ever since Elwood Haynes famously took his first “horseless carriage” out for a stroll on Pumpkinvine Pike in Kokomo in 1894, Indiana has been putting its stamp on automotive lore, climbing back to No. 2 in the nation (behind only Michigan) in automotive production.

The exhibit touches on the history of more than 100 Indiana automakers and manufacturers, such as Duesenberg, Gibson and Studebaker. It also delves into the lives of Hoosier innovators and inventors, such as Carl Fisher, Haynes and Ralph Teetor.

“For decades, the Indiana Historical Society has dedicated resources to giving people a way to experience and enjoy Indiana history in their own communities,” says John A. Herbst, IHS president and CEO. “History on Wheels allows us to expand on this critical part of our mission. As the only traveling exhibit of its kind in the state, it is a new way to experience history.”

IHS History on Wheels program manager Curt Barsic guided me around the colorful display. He relays that IHS hopes the exhibit will draw at least 100,000 annual visitors as it makes its way across the state and strives to be featured in 20 festivals per year. (The exhibit will be on the road for at least five years).

“We conducted focus groups and the overwhelming majority of people wanted to see an exhibit on the automotive history in the state,” he explains. “We had a list of 13 topics and in every focus group it was at or near the top.”

He points out one display that contrasts scenes from the 1934 Indianapolis 500 with its 100th running in 2016.

“It’s so cool,” Barsic notes. “You can see how close the crowd is (in 1934), and how close to pit row they are.”

The public will get its first chance to see History on Wheels Saturday, May 6, when IHS launches the traveling exhibit with free admission and extended hours in honor of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. History on Wheels will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, located in downtown Indianapolis, across the street from the Mini post-race party. The exhibit will remain at the History Center and be included with admission to the Indiana Experience May 7-13.

History on Wheels is supported by Lilly Endowment Inc. and fueled by CountryMark. For reservation fees and booking information, contact Mark McNees, IHS History on Wheels coordinator, at (317) 234-2029 or [email protected] More event locations and details are available on IHS’s website at www.indianahistory.org/HistoryonWheels.

2017 History on Wheels schedule (new dates are still being added):

  • May 6 – 13 – Indiana Historical Society, Downtown Indianapolis
  • June 2 – 3 – CruZionsville, Downtown Zionsville
  • June 28 – July 1 – Covington 4th of July Festival, Covington City Park, Covington
  • July 7 – 9 – Three Rivers Festival, Headwaters Park, Fort Wayne
  • July 10 – 15 – Howard County 4-H Fair, Greentown Fairgrounds, Greentown
  • July 28 – 29 – Frankfort Hot Dog Festival, Downtown Courthouse Square, Frankfort
  • Aug. 19 – 20 – Yellowstone Trail Fest, Starke County Fairgrounds, Hamlet
  • Sept. 15 – 16 – Back to the Fifties Festival, Boone County Fairgrounds, Lebanon
  • Sept. 20 – City of Whiting Cruise Night, Downtown Whiting
  • Sept. 29 – Oct. 1 – Newport Antique Auto Hill Climb, Newport

IBJ: Changes at Speedway Help Businesses, Bottom Line

The Indianapolis Business Journal’s blog, The Score, posted an interesting piece today, contending the many changes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have things moving in the right direction. Among those, its focus on giving more value and opportunity to its corporate partners is targeted as a momentum shifter. What’s more, it mentions that our former chairman, Andre Lacy, is now playing a prominent role on the Speedway’s board.

We’re excited to see IMS racing toward a bright future — not just because it’s an Indiana Chamber member, but because it’s such an instrumental figure in the history and future of our great state. IBJ writes:

Tony George is no longer head of the operation. But he is on the board. This is a board that has in recent years decided to significantly expand itself beyond familial borders.

Shortly after George was replaced by Belskus in 2009, several board members were added to the mix, notably LDI Chairman Andre B. Lacy and former Anthem Chief Financial Officer Michael L. Smith. Before that move, the board was largely run by Mari Hulman George, her three daughters, and son, Tony.

Indiana Pacers President Jim Morris and Central Indiana Corporate Partnership CEO Mark Miles, who chaired the 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee and is former CEO of the ATP Tour, were added this year, as was Belskus.

When I asked Lacy why he had been added to the board overseeing the Speedway, he deadpanned: “Everybody needs a boss.”

It was clear, the inner circle had been broadened by a new thinking—and a new level of checks and balances.

At first, Belskus seemed awkward in public and uncomfortable with the media. Quickly it became apparent he was serious about following the new board’s primary objectives: Cut expenses and raise revenue…

Last year, Belskus hung corporate signage along pit lane. This year, he made the bold move to sell wall space in turns three and four to Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka and Shell Oil Co. It was the first time such ads were hung at the Brickyard.

Also this year, NTB, a national car service and retail outlet, will have signage in the grass at turn one and signage will be hung on the back of existing video boards. Also firsts at the vaunted Speedway.

IMS’ opening up of areas previously off-limits to advertisers has created a swell of interest among marketers. In addition to Fuzzy’s, Speedway officials signed new deals this year with Continental Tire, Nissan, Visit Florida, First National Bank of Omaha, 5-Hour Energy, Farmers Insurance, Nationwide and Banana Boat.

Belskus told IBJ he expects a strong double-digit increase in sponsorship sales this May at the track and a possible 10-percent plus increase in total revenue for this year’s Indianapolis 500 over last year.

IMS Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Mike Redlick said “there’s been a change in philosophy” at the track. At the heart of the change, said Speedway executives, is creating an event that is more friendly toward the track’s corporate partners.

Join Us at the Speedway!

Question: What beats a free day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May during the middle of the work week?

Answer: A free day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May during the middle of the work week with a free lunch.

The Indiana Chamber’s Lunch with Brinegar roadshow program makes its first stop of the year at the IMS on Wednesday, May 16. Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar will provide an overview of this year’s Indiana General Assembly, an update on membership benefits and insight into this year’s elections. The event will also provide you with a great opportunity to network with other members. The lunch takes place from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.  After the program, you will have access to Gasoline Alley and the IMS grounds to enjoy the day.

The event takes place in the muddy snake pit, so dress accordingly. And, sorry, Jim Nabors will not be singing at this event because he refused Kevin’s offer to sing "Back Home Again" in Indiana as a duet. (Yes, you will be forced to drink milk at the lunch program.)

Also, the only “new track record” we’ll experience is my numerous failing attempts to make as many bad business/Indy 500 jokes as possible during my five minute presentation. But we hope you will join us to learn more about your membership and to enjoy one of the greatest sporting venues in the world!

Members may attend the event at no cost; please RSVP to Lauren Creamer at [email protected]. The fee for non-members is $50.

Indiana Schools Making an Impact at the Brickyard

As I wrote recently in BizVoice magazine, Indiana University Purdue University – Indianapolis (IUPUI) has an incredibly unique offering in its Motorsports Engineering bachelor’s program. Now, the school is once again partnering with Sarah Fisher Racing in this year’s Indianapolis 500, in which SFR driver Ed Carpenter hopes to parlay an eighth position start into a delicious bottle of milk at the finish line:

As Sarah Fisher Racing (SFR) proudly debuts its new driver Ed Carpenter at the famed 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, there’s another relationship the team is happy to continue developing—namely, a partnership with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

“We so appreciate the support IUPUI has shown throughout our team’s history,” said Sarah Fisher, team owner. “IUPUI has been a loyal sponsor of our team since I started as driver/owner in 2008, and I’m thrilled to have them backing us as Ed takes the wheel this season.”

Beyond a traditional sponsorship, this relationship is truly something special.

Once a student herself in the Engineering Dual Degree Program through the Purdue School of Engineering & Technology at IUPUI and Butler University, Fisher has continued to give back to the school by visiting campus to talk with undergraduate students about her experiences in the motorsports industry. And students in IUPUI’s Motorsports Engineering Program – the only program in the nation to offer a Bachelor’s of Science in Motorsports Engineering – continue to sharpen their engineering skills and motorsports savvy through internships with the team each year.

Purdue University is also a factor in this year’s race, showcasing the school’s engineering prowess by partnering with HVM Racing.

Purdue University and HVM Racing have partnered for the Indianapolis 500. The relationship will bring the HVM team advanced engineering technologies in aerodynamics, manufacturing and advanced materials, providing opportunities for Purdue students and faculty to participate in motorsports with HVM.

“HVM Racing is one of IndyCar’s leading competitors with 2010 Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year driver Simona de Silvestro and one of her premier teams in the IZOD IndyCar Series,” said James Caruthers, the Reilly Professor of Chemical Engineering.

Keith Wiggins, president of HVM Racing, said, “This relationship with Purdue enables HVM to work with one of the premier engineering schools in the U.S. to exploit the latest technological innovations in aerodynamics, advanced materials and manufacturing, as well as being able to interact with bright, fresh-thinking Purdue students in a variety of ways for the future.”
 

Motorsports Show Highlights Another Indiana Asset

Gerry Dick of Inside Indiana Business interviewed Ron Green of R. Green Communications about the impact of the International Motorsports Industry Show — only in its second year. See the interview here:

A huge motorsports show opening this week in Indianapolis has grown into one of the city’s top 20 events in just its second year. Organizers of the International Motorsports Industry Show expect attendance to double this year to 20,000, leading to an anticipated economic impact of $16.9 million. R. Green Communications Owner Ron Green says the event is a valuable replacement for the Performance Racing Industry Show which moved from Indianapolis to Orlando, Florida a few years ago.