Despite low attendance numbers, motorsports industry alive, well in Indiana

91 of 92 counties have motorsport business

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - New data from Purdue University and Indiana University researchers sheds light on the current state of the motorsports industry in Indiana.

Researchers say manufacturers are thriving in the Hoosier state and they are doing it in the face of low attendance numbers.

This information that has never been collected and organized before, but researchers are hoping it translates into an increased understanding and pride for the motorsports industry around the state.

"Finally we have something to really back up what we always thought would be the case," said Scott Hutcheson, with the Purdue Center for Regional Development. "Intuitively we knew that motorsports was important to the Indiana economy, but yea this is the first time we've kind of put it down on paper."

Ninety-one of 92 counties have at least one motorsports business and those operations provide 23,000 good-paying Hoosier jobs.

Also documented are estimated attendance numbers for motorsports events like the Brickyard 400 that showed smaller crowds last year.

Many blame a slow economy, but experts say the images of low attendance are not lost on local manufacturers.

"There's concern about attendance because attendance attracts sponsors and sponsors provide the money to help people invent better parts to go faster," said Drew Klacik, with the IU Public Policy Institute.

According to researchers, the key is diversification.

It's a strategy Indiana companies seem to be applying well, selling to a variety of other industries and exporting goods to more than 20 different countries.

The data also shows the grade can improve when it comes to educating the future workforce. 

"There is a lot of retirements occurring in motorsports, and we need to make sure we've got that pipeline of human capital to fill those positions," Hutcheson said.

The data collected in the study shows programs to train people in the motorsports industry are often under-enrolled and many current workers are under-prepared.

Researchers say this data is now a tool they can use when talking to the legislature and other entities, in an effort to improve some of these areas.

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