At 70 miles per hour on Interstate 465 around Indianapolis, my car was 15 miles over the speed limit. Yet I was being passed on the left and the right. A truck close behind me was moving up with evil intent.
That’s when I realized there is a way to increase state revenues, celebrate Indiana’s Bicentennial and make happier the Hoosier legislators I so often decry.
I-465 is almost 53 miles of limited access highway making a square around the city. Speed limits are not enforced except when there is a front page fatality, and then only for a day or two afterwards.
Within I-465 lies the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500 and other events of vehicular madness. Lots of speed-freaks show up for these events.
Thousands of men and women long to drive without speed limits in their own cars as crowds cheer and TV cameras record every eye movement, while helicopters and blimps follow the action. Transponders in every car could monitor the laps, position and speed of each car while excited announcers feed information to the drivers and fans.
Ten times around I-465 covers the required 500 miles. Cars might be altered as long as they meet all safety standards. Licensed drivers from any state would be registered, insured and pay a hefty entry fee. Those fees, plus rentals of spectator space along the route, and the TV/radio rights provide the revenue, less whatever prizes are awarded and expenses incurred.
Our dependable legislators would decide how to spend the money independent of our preferences.
By daybreak of race day, the first Saturday in May, the road is cleared of traffic and debris. High school bands play old favorites as cars, SUVs and light trucks enter at specified interchanges. Drivers are not allowed to carry weapons of any sort lest road rage become fatal.
In the clockwise (inside) lanes are the 17 to 29 year old drivers; counter-clockwise (outside) lanes will host drivers 30 to 64. On Sunday, drivers 65 years and older contest the clockwise lanes, while 18-wheelers show their stuff going counter-clockwise.
The top 10 finishers in each group, that’s 40 drivers, are eligible to return the following week for the statewide runoff. Yes, statewide.
This is not just an Indianapolis race. Around Fort Wayne on I-69 and I-469 is 50 miles. A northwest Indiana contest could use portions of I-90 and I-94, particularly after the Cline Avenue bridge is rebuilt. South Bend-Elkhart, with some minor imaginative effort, could do the same. Evansville and Jeffersonville-New Albany (with or without involving folks south of the Ohio River), even Terre Haute, could partake as well. You can bet Purdue will find a way of being represented.
All winners come to Indianapolis the next weekend for the runoff of the four divisions.
Ordinary folks finally get the dream rides of a (perhaps limited) lifetime and Indiana gets money. Let Indiana in May truly be the speed center of the nation, the envy of every state. Could we ask for anything better?