The town of Speedway finds success off the track

Speedway growth
Speedway springs to life

SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WTHR) - Speedway was once a place fans drove through to get to “the speedway.”

It was busy a couple of weekends a year. Hundreds of millions of dollars and a decade of work are changing that.

Even lifelong fans of the greatest spectacle in racing admit they are only now discovering the other Speedway.

Mike Leto has watched the race on television and visited Indianapolis dozens of times. This is the first time he will be at the race.

“The big surprise is that there is actually a town of Speedway,” Leto said. He called it a good surprise.

Even locals are surprised by what what’s going on in Speedway.

This isn’t the Main Street Jesse Morgan grew up with. He said it rarely crossed his mind to come to Speedway to do something.

“Besides the race, not really. It is a lot more modern, a lot more inviting.”

Even a little exciting.

Over ten years, Speedway has attracted and guided $375 million worth of investments.

“There’s been a lot of major redevelopment a lot of investors in the community and a lot of people moving in,” said town manager Jacob Blasdel.

There are new streets and sidewalks. Ugly utility poles and overhead electrical wires are now buried. New restaurants are competing with existing ones. Several new business line the streets, many of them tied to the racing industry.

Construction is underway on a $36 million hotel and apartment building. AJ Foyt’s wine vault recently got a shout-out in Forbes Magazine.

“It used to be you went to the race and you wanted to get out of Speedway as quickly as you could,” said Blasdel “Now people want to stay. They come early and stay after the race. They want to be here year-round.”

The success of Speedway’s Main Street is spreading into the neighborhoods.

“People are taking pride in their property,” said Janet Webster, who has lived in the same Speedway house for almost 28 years.

Homes are selling quickly. Streets dominated by grandparents are now attracting first-time home buyers and young families.

“Finally, after all these years, we have babies around again,” Webster said. “We haven’t had that for years.”

Not everyone likes the changes.

One resident complained today about having to search for an open parking space on Main Street. The co-owner of an long-established auto repair shop said they’re moving out to make room for new development.

Progress and prosperity apparently come with a price.