Indianapolis Motor Speedway introduced its third-generation scoring pylon to the media on Tuesday, July 22, on the main straightaway of the iconic 2.5-mile oval.
Located just south of the entrance to Gasoline Alley, the newest pylon features full LED panels on all four sides providing improved messaging capabilities to fans that include animation and video.
Made by Panasonic, the pylon has 1,320 panels on each side and 5,280 combined on all four sides. It stands 92 feet, 2 inches tall, replacing the second-generation pylon that stood 90 feet, 4 inches and was removed on June 30, 2014, after 20 years of service.
The original IMS scoring pylon was built in the spring of 1959, then a one-of-a-kind model which featured a lap counter, average speed indicator and positions for 33 cars.
Among the many tricks on the full-LED-paneled pylon is the ability to completely flash with green lights. Or yellow. Or with an American flag look for pre-race, then, in a blink, the 92-foot, 4-inch pylon can look just like the one that was removed last month.
“We wanted to generate more information, to give more information to the fans in their seats,” said Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles. “That old pylon was iconic, so we wanted to make sure the size was similar – we’re about two feet taller and three inches wider (with the new pylon) – but we wanted the ability to light it like everybody’s used to, especially for the Indianapolis 500.”
For the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com, the pylon can display the top 10 on the track while also circulating through spots 11 through 43. It can also provide enhanced stats information like lap times, miles per hour and time behind the leader.
Needless to say, that’s a far cry from the pylon erected in 1994 that stood sentry over the first 20 Brickyard 400s, two decades of Indianapolis 500s and other events. That pylon, powered by 6,496 30-watt light bulbs, could only display basic race scoring with a space at the top for race logos.
The new pylon can fully light up with “Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” race logos or other digital artwork. The possibilities are considerable.
“I think the fans, even fans that are a little concerned about it, are going to find that we’ve done a great job of paying real close attention to our tradition but also giving them something that makes their experience here at the Speedway better,” Boles said.
Looking at the new Panasonic-built model, it’s hard to fathom the first IMS pylon that went up in 1959 and was manually operated. More than a half-century later, the pylon now has animation and video capabilities.
And the enhancements at IMS won’t stop there. Boles added that in the coming year, video boards around the track will be added that have the same digital capabilities.
Photos, Data and Graphics courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Photos by Chris Jones – Indianapolis Motor Speedway