INDIANAPOLIS — Doug Boles is as good of a fit for his current role as the President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as any one person’s job in America. The two go hand-in-hand. Boles’ love and passion for the famed track to go along with his love for racing in general, his leadership abilities as well as his caring for people, all make him THE perfect person to lead IMS’ charge.
Now, factor in Boles recently having a new boss (Roger Penske), who’s also a man who holds the same principles and passion for the track and this sport, and you get even bigger and better things to come for those hallowed grounds moving forward.
Boles, was hired on as track president in 2013. He has been at IMS in various roles since 2010. But, heading into his 10th year at the track, this move by Penske to purchase IMS from the Hulman George Family has Boles as energized now as ever before.
“Literally from January 1 through today, there’s been no days off,” Boles said on Tuesday from the Indy 500 ticket unveiling. “We’ve been working to make sure we have all the little details that we can make everything we can do to have an impact. It’s energizing in a way that I’ve never been energized before. I’ve been here for nine years and three months at the Speedway and this is as excited that I’ve ever been.”
Boles notes that Penske has been in town every week for a day, sometimes two and will continue to do so. He calls Penske very hands on and it’s not unusual for himself or another staff member to get a call or two from the new boss every day.
Boles said a perfect example of this is how quickly the track went from hosting an oval NASCAR Xfinity Series race to a road course event. The schedule has been out for 2020 for almost a year. Penske, took over in November and immediately asked how they can make the NASCAR weekend better.
Boles, told him that talks were in place already for the 2019 NXS race to move from the oval to road course but with the new date in July now for 2020, they didn’t want to rush it. Penske, said that if they felt that strongly about this being good for the track and their paying customers, then run with it. He didn’t care that it was already approaching December and the race would take place in just seven months.
In a matter of a month, the idea not only got off the ground, it’s now happening.
“A neat thing about working with Roger is, if he feels like it’s the right thing, there’s no delay,” Boles continued. “If he feels it’s the right thing and that customer experience is going to be better he’s going to pull the trigger right away.”
Boles said that fans will see an impact of Penske taking over the Speedway by time they show up in this May.
“I think they’ll definitely be an impact heading into May. We’ve been working on trying to figure out what we can do by time the gates open so customers see what Roger (Penske) has done. Roger’s first priority is customer experience. But, with it being winter, there’s only so much you can do. That’s one of the things that on our 100 day out, Roger is going to talk about what we have going.
“So our focus right now is what can we get done for May then we have a whole list of things that are piling up that are longer term conversations that need a little more studying. I know Roger mentioned lights on November 4 and we’ve talked through that and wondering what we can do to get into May and the July race season and then figure out the long term solution.
“The biggest challenge is how do you get enough infrastructure to support the lights at the Speedway. I mean, you’d really be doing it for just one weekend.”