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May 21, 2015

A.J. Foyt

Allison Melangton

Mark Miles

THE MODERATOR:  Good morning, everybody.  I'm Doug Boles with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  I want to thank everybody for coming this morning on a beautiful May morning in Indianapolis as we get ready for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 in just a couple days. 
What we're here today to talk a little bit about is what's going to happen in a little over a year from now.  I would like to introduce, to kick things off know, the CEO of Hulman & Company, and the leader of IndyCar Series, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, all our companies, Mr. Mark Miles. 
MARK MILES:  Thanks, Doug.  Thank you all for being here. 
We're really excited about what's going to happen here the rest of this week.  This morning we're going to talk about the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 race, but we are not forgetting the fact we've still got the 99th to do, and we've got Carb Day and we've got concerts.  We're really looking forward to the next few days. 
That said, the message today is that we have been for some time beginning to think about what is going to be an amazing opportunity for IndyCar and for this place, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  That is to celebrate the 100th Indianapolis 500 race. 
It's just hard to express what this race means.  We're going to turn to A.J. to do that in a few minutes, what this race means.  But we have thought a lot about the opportunity. 
We think, as you'll see in a moment, that the race in a way is about human achievement and the desire to always push the pedal, to go farther, faster, and to innovate.  This place has stood for that for all these many years.  We want to celebrate that in a big-time way over the course of the next year. 
This is not envisioned as a one-day birthday party.  As fans leave the 99th Indianapolis 500 race, they will have the opportunity to buy hats and T-shirts and all the rest with the logo for the 100th celebration, which you'll see in a couple of minutes. 
It's in some ways a year-long celebration between the 99th and up to the 100th.  We see it as a way to reconnect and to strengthen our connections to motorsports around the world.  So we will be inviting anybody who has had anything to do with our history globally, former drivers, manufacturers that have run here before, people who run tracks all over the world.  We hope that many of them will be able to join us for the celebration. 
We see it as a big opportunity nationally.  So we will be in a grass-roots way making our presence in this birthday celebration known in major cities, major markets, major gatherings across the country in the months running up to May of 2016. 
For those of you who are from Indianapolis, who live here, are aware of the way Indianapolis does sporting events, we're going to make this Super Bowl-like in May of 2016. 
Allison will talk more about that in a moment, but I promise you there's a method to the madness, and we think that people will be eager to find a way locally, whether it's an individual or a family or a not-for-profit or a company, to get involved and to be part of this celebration of this unbelievable milestone. 
So that's what this is all about.  A lot of thought has gone into it.  We thought we might just take a second to show a video, if we can tee that up.  It just gives you kind of the emotional feeling that we have for the opportunity of celebrating the 100th Indianapolis 500 race. 

(Video Shown.)

MARK MILES:  That gets the blood going a little bit.  It really is the way we think about this place, its history, all that it represents. 
At some point it became, maybe very early on, more than a race.  It became this bigger symbol.  We aim to communicate that throughout the course of the year. 
Now, as marketers, you got to find a way to kind of present that to fans, whether it's about a hat or a T-shirt or advertisements that will run, you need some way to have the embodiment of it expressed graphically.  So that means a logo.  We're going to try now to show you another little video.  You saw the logo, but this will give you a little insight into our friends who bring the creative mindset and skills to the development of the logo. 

(Video Shown.)

MARK MILES:  We're really pleased with that.  There's another version of it that may not be for sale, but the words under it say 'Fast Forward'.  I think that's really the way we think about this.  It's the brand.  It's the nature of the place. 
While this is about celebrating 100 years of history, it is very much about then propelling ourselves forward.  We're not going to be looking in the rearview mirror except to celebrate greats like A.J. Foyt. 
A.J., I don't know if you know Allison Melangton, but this lady to my left is the best organizer of major sporting events in the country.  She did the Super Bowl when it was in Indianapolis, the Final Four, other basketball events.  She knows how to pull it off in an incredibly well organized and creative way. 
She joined Hulman & Company six months ago.  One of her primary initial roles is to think how we can make the most of this opportunity.  With that I want to introduce Allison Melangton to talk more about what you can expect from us in the months ahead.
ALLISON MELANGTON:  Good morning, everyone.  As we're looking at the planning, the method to the madness, as Mark said earlier today, planning for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, one of the things we were looking at, there's so many significant milestones related to racing, certainly in this community. 
One of the things that really stuck out for me, I've been here the last six months trying to absorb as much as I can, learn as much as I can, is that ABC Sports has televised this event, this will be the 51st year consecutive that ABC has televised the Indianapolis 500.  That is a remarkable statement globally for what this event is. 
I think ABC only has one other sporting activity that they've covered for that length of time consecutively.  From my other life in running sporting events in television, that to me is a significant marker, 51 years in a row. 
As we started looking at the global positioning of the Indianapolis 500, we started with a number of things that were really important, that being one of them, the positioning. 
Another thing that I was thinking as I've been learning in the last six months here, one of the Super Bowl things from 2012 that stuck out for me is we had the media party out here for the 5,000 national and international media that were here for the Super Bowl.  When we got all the information back after the Super Bowl, comment cards from the media globally, absolutely the most important thing that they commented on was their ability and opportunity to experience and come out to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the media party, experience the things that were here.  They went to the museum.  They had a number of opportunities to learn about the racecars.  They had an opportunity to kiss the bricks and so forth. 
Having that experience with the media, having that be one of their huge takeaways, that they got to come here and be a part of that celebration here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is another statement globally of how important this event is. 
As I've traveled around the world the last 30 years doing different events, there's no question that anytime someone finds out that I'm from Indianapolis, the first thing they say is Indianapolis 500, even when they don't speak the same language. 
As we're looking at, as Mark said, the global positioning of the event, we have a lot of plans that will reach into the global market, into the national market, and then certainly into the local market. 
Mark also mentioned the importance that this is not a one-day birthday party.  The event is 374 days from today.  We will be sort of activating and celebrating starting on Monday doing different things, after we conclude with the 99th, and looking at it as a year-long activation and celebration, particularly locally, then spreading nationally and internationally. 
I wanted to go over with you quickly the goals that we've set as we're looking at our event planning and the different things that we want to put in place to make sure we are capturing the significance of next year.  So I'm going to review those in a minute. 
I wanted to talk for a moment about the 500 Festival.  The 500 Festival, it's a little bit confusing on what they do and what we do. 
Patty Martin is here, who is the chairman for the 500 Festival in 2016.  The 500 Festival does the Mini-Marathon, organize, coordinate, plan, execute the Mini-Marathon, the parade, the Snakepit Ball, and a number of other activities throughout the month of May. 
They're our key organizational partner as we go forward in the next year to do all the planning and execute the things that we have on our plate.  They're an incredible organization and we are well aligned and partnered in the things that we're going to plan going forward. 
We really have seven stated goals at this point.  We're building our plans around those goals.  The first is 12 months of maximizing international, national and local engagement. 
Number two, inspire reflection, celebration and the future destination of the Indy 500.  As Mark indicated, again, we're looking at the last 100 years, but fast forward, we're looking at the next 100 years.  
Number three, reaffirm the Indy 500 as the most important motorsports race in the world.  We are the greatest spectacle in racing.  We want to make sure that globally, nationally and locally that we claim that. 
Number four, showcase the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the world's premiere racing facility.  I know a number of you have seen the reports on Project 100, the improvements being made at this facility coming into this year and next year.  I know the pylon will be brand-new this year, installed last year for the Brickyard.  The Panasonic boards and other things, I think the media has done a good job of covering all those things.  But establishing and showcasing ourselves as the premiere racing facility in the world is a key part of this next year, and Project 100 is a big part of that. 
Number five, celebrate the unequaled annual Memorial Day tradition in Indiana throughout the month of May.  We'll be having a theme with Memorial Day and expanding that Memorial Day celebrations, those family and community celebrations, to longer than just Memorial Day weekend. 
Number six, significantly expand the brand exposure and leverage for IndyCar racing.  Obviously the IndyCar Series is important for us.  We start that month next year in May with the Angie's List Grand Prix, which is an important part for us, but it's part of the whole month, not that we're skipping over it to get to the 100th. 
The Grand Prix will start the first racing part of our month.  Leading into that, we've got a number of races, also following the Indy 500. 
Finally, number seven, inspire local legacy and impact in the community.  As we reach out to our community partners and prepare our plans, led by the 500 Festival, that's an important part for us, sporting events are great with everything that happens on the field of play.  But when they really make impact, when they really can change lives is through the different opportunities we have in our own community to impact youth, to impact education, and so forth.  So we'll be taking a hard look and putting plans together for impact in the community. 
So we'll be announcing things as they come up.  We're not going to sort of hold everything till the end.  This is going to be a little bit of a roll-out for the year.  But we're very excited to be kicking off our plans.  I think we have a great logo.  Our marketing department has done a great job with our video and with our marketing partners.  We're excited to get going on Monday. 
MARK MILES:  Thank you. 
There's a lot of marketing speak, but it is also real.  In one second we're going to turn this over to Doug and A.J. because we know full well it's really about racing and the history, as the video said, the glory that's been accomplished here. 
As I do that, I just want to say it's also about people.  It's also about, especially here in Indianapolis, Indiana, how it affects so many people's lives.  Their families have their rituals on race day, their traditions.  Whether that's been listening to the radio about these guys doing unbelievable things or tuning in on the television or getting out here to see it in person. 
It touches people.  That's a big part of what we're talking about, especially locally.  We know that if people have a house and if people have a porch, they will make the extra effort to put a checkered flag on it next year.  If they have barbecues with their families, they're going to do it to celebrate the race.  They'll be out here in droves.  We can't wait to take advantage of Hoosiers connection to this place. 
While we're celebrating the last 100 years, as I was walking in here today, you see all those little school kids climbing all over this place, you know, just soaking it in.  So we may have 100 glorious years behind us, but with those kids out there, the traditions they're starting, they got a great 100 years in front of us, as well. 
With that, it's time to talk about racing and racing history.  I want to turn it over to Doug Boles.  Doug is going to talk to A.J. about that. 
THE MODERATOR:  We often talk about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  What makes the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in particular the Indy 500, different is its history.  Without its history it's just another race.  So those 106 years we've been here, the almost 100 years of racing is what makes us different. 
What's so fascinating about it, even though it's about history, it's also about change.  Every year there's something different, something new to look forward to, and the brand continues to grow.  Over those 100 years, we've had roughly 750 drivers, men and women, who've risked their lives to try and win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 
There's been nobody that's as synonymous with the brand of the Indianapolis 500 than A.J. Foyt.  He first raced here in 1958.  He first won here in 1961.  He was our first four-time winner in 1977.  He won the race as an owner in 1999. 
There has been a Foyt name in the race or owning a car in the race for nearly 60 years.  There's nobody that's more important to our brand or more associated with our brand than A.J.
A.J., you often say a lot, that Indianapolis made A.J. Foyt.  I would argue that you and the 750 drivers are what made Indianapolis.  Can you talk a little bit about why coming to Indianapolis was so important to you in 1958 as you came up, and why today you still come back every year and can't wait for May. 
A.J. FOYT:  Well, that was my dream when I started racing.  I used to work for my father in the shop.  I'll never forget every Memorial Day, we used to watch the Indy 500.  I started racing locally at Playland Park, which is where the Astrodome is now, no longer exists.  I dreamed of this. 
1955 was my first year I had some friends come up here, they gave me a ride because I didn't have two nickels to get up here.  I sit in turn two and watched the race.  I said, Man, maybe someday I'll be fortunate enough, lucky enough to have a car to come up here. 
My mother-in-law, I'll never forget, I wanted to buy another midget.  She lived to be 94 years old.  I never paid the signature off.  She lent me $1500 at Citizen State Bank.  I'll never forget the guy's name, Mr. Thomas.  She signed the note. 
Well, I did pay it off.  Like I said to my wife, I never paid that signature off, you know.  All in all, I brought my midget up there, then was fortunate enough, one of the races they had at 16th Street, across the street, I was lucky enough to make the race. 
I'll never forget Jimmy Reece and Johnnie Parsons, Don Freeland was over there the night before the 500.  Had the nose off.  I was changing some weight.  They said, What are you doing? 
I said, I'm changing a little weight.  My car is a little loose.  Everybody had big tires.  I had skinny ones because I had no money. 
What do you mean jacking a little weight?  Jimmy Reece, I'll never forget it.  When they used to come down to Houston and race, I used to wash their cars, change the tires. 
He said, What do you mean jacking a little weight? 
I said, I'm putting more weight on the left rear. 
He said, There's only one place to jack weight. 
I said, Where is that? 
He said, Right here the head of the steering gear. 
I said, What do you mean, the head of the steering gear? 
He said, That throttle foot. 
I'll never forget that (laughter). 
Through the years, I won a few races around the world.  As far as I'm concerned, you don't know all of them where I won, but you only know A.J. Foyt from one race.  I got to be pretty good friends with the Georges and the Hulmans.  My first year, I can't remember who signed you in, Van Lines' car was not here, I had to stay outside the fence. 
He said, How do we know you're driving that car? 
I said, Dean Van Lines hired me to drive it. 
He said, When they get here with the car, you can get in the pits. 
I said, Okay. 
I was kind of staying in my car.  That's when I met Mr. Hulman.  Then we got to be friends. 
After that, when the car got here, you know, be lucky enough to win it the first time.  I just couldn't believe it.  But I guess my long-life dream was to really qualify for the Indy 500.  You have a lot of great racetracks, but there's only one 500.  It's like horse racing, you have a lot of great horse racetracks, but you only have one Kentucky Derby. 
That's always been my dream. 
Last couple years I've had hell coming back here.  Then a couple times when I was hurt, you know, my dream was to get back here and race.  Lucky enough I always had enough ambition and strength to make it back here.  I wasn't maybe 100%, but I did make it. 
Like this year, I had a few complications.  I guess they said they were serious.  I didn't know.  I slept for 10 days (laughter).  My wife, somebody come in, the first 30 days, when I started coming back out of the coma, they said, How long you been here? 
I said, Hell, I think it's 30 days. 
My wife said, I beg your pardon. 
What are you talking about? 
She said, I've been here for 30 days, you slept for 10 (laughter). 
Like I said, y'all only know me from one place, and that's here.  It's a place that I love to come to, and I'll continue to come here as long as I live.  There's a lot of other races that I go to, but like I said, there's only one 500, and that's my life-long dream.  I'll continue to come here as long as I can. 
THE MODERATOR:  One of the things that makes the Indy 500 so special is the start.  33 cars coming out of turn four all trying to figure out how they're going to get through turn one.  You had an opportunity in 2011 to drive the pace car.  Talk a little bit about, what's it like for a driver, a new driver, to take that green flag going into turn one?  What was going through your head when you got to drive the pace car that year? 
A.J. FOYT:  Well, I led the race one more time (laughter). 
But, you know, it's hard to tell you when they say, Gentlemen, start your motors.  I don't care how tough you are, how mean you are, you tighten up.  It's hard to tell you the thrill that you have when you crawl in the car.  There's just no words that you can express how it feels. 
It's just like people back home in Indiana, it's hard to put it in words the way it makes a driver feel when he's out there knowing he's at the greatest race in the world. 
It's wonderful.  I had a lot of fun here. 
THE MODERATOR:  So you won the 50th anniversary, your first race, in 1961.  Any words of wisdom you can give to the person that's going to win a year from now? 
A.J. FOYT:  Are you going to let me pass my test (laughter)? 
I think the funniest thing on the 50th anniversary, when Mr. Hulman had Ray Harroun and myself go to New York.  He took us up there.  I was on the TV station, I think What's My Line?  It was very interesting.  I'll never forget, on the way up there, I asked Mr. Harroun, I said, When do you know it's time to quit? 
He said, I'll tell you.  It will come to you all of a sudden. 
That's just like the day I retired right here.  I figured I started here, I wanted to quit here.  Robby Gordon done hit the wall again in my other car.  It's hard to be a car owner and a driver at the same time. 
Everybody couldn't believe because we were running pretty quick that morning, pretty much quicker than anybody.  My crew said, Looks like we're going to get the pole. 
I said, We're not going to get no pole. 
What do you mean? 
I quit. 
I said, It's through, I'm over.  I crawled out and haven't been back in one since.  I always said when I quit, I'd probably quit here.  I don't think nobody could believe it when I said, It's over. 
Been wonderful years here.  It's hard to put it into words. 
THE MODERATOR:  When A.J. came up here, we were talking about A.J. actually drove his golf cart through the plaza.  As those of you know, we're not allowed to drive golf cart through the plaza.  You do know that there are rules that even Mark has to follow here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but there are also A.J. rules.  Those rules aren't written by us, they're written by A.J.  So if you want to run next year, you write the rule book, we'd be glad to have you. 
Ladies and gentlemen, we know him as No. 14, but he's No. 1 in our hearts. 
A.J. FOYT:  Nice seeing all you people here this morning.  It's like old times, cold here today. 
THE MODERATOR:  We'll take a few questions. 

Q.  Doug, if I remember correctly, in the history of the Indy 500, despite totally different cars, this race was also counting for the Formula One World Championship.  Is the FIA at any stage involved in this celebration?  And, Mark, you mentioned earlier global marketing.  What is the most important market for this race outside the United States? 
MARK MILES:  On the first question, we are reaching out to the FIA.  They have another Formula One race of some importance at the same time.  But we hope that they will find a way to send some of their senior people and be part of it, help us spread the word of the importance of it around the world.  We're going to some of their meetings just for that purpose. 
For this race, obviously IndyCar and this place start as fundamentally U.S.  The obvious is that the U.S. market is number one.  After that, it has changed a bit.  In no small part that depends on the drivers who are having the most success.  The French market has lit up for us a bit.  We've changed television arrangements in the last year based in part on the popularity of our French drivers. 
Obviously there's huge interest in Colombia, given the number of Colombian drivers that are going to be out there on the grid. 
Brazil is, year in and year out, an important market to us.  We had a little hiccup there in terms of the event that we expect to run there.  But it's clear to us that there's an appetite when we want to be there to race in Brazil. 
But every year the television coverage is terrific.  Our partners do a great job in covering the whole series.  They know that the centerpiece of the IndyCar Series is very much the 500. 
Those are some of the few top markets for us. 

Q.  A.J. when you first started racing here, the frontstretch was brick, your first victory in '61, the frontstretch was still brick.  Cars were front engine.  What has the evolution been like for A.J. Foyt from the time you first started racing here going into the 100th? 
A.J. FOYT:  Actually, you know, people don't realize how much smoother the racetrack is.  When I was here, 18-inch tires, harder than concrete.  When you hit the bricks, the fillings would fall out of your teeth (laughter). 
To go through them years, be fortunate enough to win it on the bricks, I was glad when they paved the front straightaway, made it a lot smoother and safer. 
That's why the Hulmans are great.  They do whatever they can to make it safe for the fans and the drivers.  What else can you ask for?  First track to ever have safety walls, things like that.  When I was testing walls, there were no safety walls.  Pretty hard. 
That's the biggest thing I see the difference.  It was so rough down the front straightaway.  Shook a lot of cars apart and things like that. 

Q.  When you started, compare the drivers of your early era to what they are today.  Is there any difference?  They run a lot faster and everything, but just compare them.  Do you see the same depth of dedication?
A.J. FOYT:  Actually, I never thought when you come here, you'd run flat-footed.  Last time I was here I ran at 225.  The speed is not that much different than when I drove here.  The cars are a lot safer and they drive a lot better. 
Actually I would say most of the drivers today, like I come up in midgets, sprints, dirt cars, all that, a lot of these drivers, I think that's the reason you see a lot of them here and gone tomorrow, they're here just to race the great 500. 
Back then, to be a champion or something like that, you had to run dirt cars, you had to run road courses and ovals, not just oval racing. 
A lot of these boys, they probably would love it and enjoy it if they ever had a chance to drive a sprint car, midget or dirt car. 
Right there it would probably be like a lot of the guys here, it's hard to say.  It's altogether different than it was, like the world today is a lot different than it was when I was a lot younger.  I think Mark would agree to that. 
MARK MILES:  I can kind of remember. 

Q.  A.J., you knew him personally.  Mark, you know all about him.  What do you think Tony Hulman would have to say about this 100th Indianapolis 500?
A.J. FOYT:  I think he would be glad and he would love the way the new logo is going to be and things like that. 
Tony was for the fans and the drivers.  He could never do enough for 'em.  The Hulmans through the years, I've known them for quite a few years now.  I lived with Mary George, my wife and I.  Our kids are pretty close to the same age. 
Pretty hard to put it in words.  He just loved people, Mr. Hulman did. 
MARK MILES:  I'm speculating based on what I've seen, I can't answer it with the experience that A.J. can, but I think he'd be as pleased as he could be. 
We know he cared deeply about the place, cared deeply about the drivers.  But he was also a great promoter.  Doug Boles told a story recently about how he was in Mr. Hulman's office, which is pretty much today like it was the last time he was in it.  You can go through these big scrapbooks of all the clippings and the like, really his personal effects that had to do with the company and racing. 
He would write every mayor in the city of Indianapolis, all the governors in the United States, personally every year.  He was a great promoter.  He cared about extending it at kind of a human level to make sure everybody was paying attention and was invited in. 
So that's kind of the same spirit, thanks for your question, that we're trying to approach the 100th with.  There's a place to be part of this celebration for everybody we can reach and I know people will respond. 
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  We look forward to seeing you all this weekend for the 99th running. 

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