SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) - Indianapolis Motor Speedway is undergoing changes to make the 100-year-old facility more accessible to the 20 percent of Americans who have disabilities.
The process to get the speedway in compliance with the American's with Disabilities Act began back in 1999.
Much has been done already to make IMS more handicapped-accessible. But there is plenty more to do before the 345-acre race track is in compliance with ADA guidelines, says the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, Joe Hogsett.
"All told, more than 360 features, elements and facilities at the speedway have been identified as areas to be improved to meet the requirements of the ADA," he says.
Bathrooms, turn two viewing mounds and, where possible, stands are all about to undergo a transformation, including adding handicapped parking in front of the mounds.
"They will have an accessible path to a location that will allow them to literally go right to the mound," says Kevin Forbes, Director of Engineering for IMS.
While the speedway has been cooperating with the U.S. Attorney, Forbes called the lack of compliance humbling. He is spearheading the effort to get the speedway in full compliance with ADA in the next 30 months, as agreed to in writing with the U.S. Attorney.
"To make our facility accessible, to make it enjoyable, to make it a great experience for all of our customers, all of our patrons," said Forbes.
Dan Ward first filed a complaint with the Department of Justice back in 1999. During a practice session he was denied access to the pit area, even though he had a pass, because it was feared his wheelchair put him in danger.
"Well, I didn't realize it was going to be as much of a production as it turned out to be. But I am pleased with my efforts. People will be able to access the facilities in full," he says.
Some of the improvements, including access to the turn two viewing mounds, will be ready in time for this year's Indianapolis 500 race. Others will take longer.
As part of the agreement, the speedway will submit a progress report to the U.S. Attorney every 90 days for the next two years. The speedway also agreed to allow follow-up inspections. IMS would not say how much coming into compliance will cost.
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