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Jason Vansickle serves as the VP of Curation and Education at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
I am an Indianapolis native. I grew up on the south side of town and went to Southport High School. Afterward, I attended IUPUI and studied history during my undergrad. I grew up around vintage automobiles via my father and grandfather and developed an interest in the history of cars from an early age. As the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the 500-mile race are tied to the cultural fabric of Indiana, I quickly was enamored with the history of the Speedway.
There are variations in my day-to-day based on the time of year and various ongoing IMS Museum projects. I oversee the Museum’s collection, which features over 200 vehicles and thousands of pieces of memorabilia. I lead the Museum’s exhibition development team as we plan and create our various Museum programming. Additionally, I oversee the Museum’s restoration team, which preserves the vehicles in our collection.
I am most excited to welcome guests back to the IMS Museum to visit the wide variety of new programming this year. We have expanded our exhibitions from two a year to five in 2022. Guests can now visit our three latest displays, Traditions, In-Focus, and Roadsters 2 Records, highlighting different IMS-related topics. We plan to open two additional temporary exhibitions in July and November 2022, with a third in January 2023.
The Indianapolis 500 storied history lends itself to some amazing facts and figures. My favorite piece of 500 trivia is that out of 786 drivers who have qualified and participated in the 500, there has never been a driver with the surname of Smith to participate in the 500-mile race. A few have attempted unsuccessfully to qualify for the race, but a “Smith” has not been included in the starting field.
I attended my first Indianapolis 500 in 2001, though I remember watching the race on television at an early age. I closely follow the NTT INDYCAR Series throughout the season and watch Formula One and NASCAR. In May, especially on race morning, I plan and implement running vintage IMS Museum-owned Indycars on a tribute lap during pre-race. We plan to run eight vintage cars with legendary drivers this year before the 500-mile race. Make sure you are in your seats before 10:30 am on race morning to see this lap. After our lap is over, I can watch the race from the grandstands and enjoy the race live with over 300,000 race fans.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum’s mission is to celebrate and tell the stories of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We are a public non-for-profit in charge of preserving these items and artifacts for future generations. The Museum is reinventing itself and adding programing and positioning for the future. The collection is world-class and highlights not only the Indianapolis 500 but also additional historic racing cars and over 30 Indiana-built passenger cars.
A visit to downtown Indianapolis is a must for any out-of-town visitor. There is so much to do in the city, and it is easy to get around. In a few hours, one can visit one of our great cultural institutions, relax at White River State Park, and have excellent cuisine at one of the many Indianapolis local restaurants.
Main Street, Speedway, is a great spot to hang out on the weekend. It has excellent restaurants such as Dawsons on Main, Big Woods, and Brozinni Pizzeria. It also hosts many breweries and bars, such as Daredevil Brewing, O’Reilly’s Irish Pub, and Barbeque and Bourbon. It is always fun to race against your friends at Sarah Fisher’s Speedway Indoor Karting. Main Street has a great laid-back atmosphere.