Change In A Roundabout Way

Throughout the years, it has been well-documented how much I despise change. I have lived my life under the mantra "Change is bad". If truth be known, I’m not quite as averse to change as it comes across. I love the latest technological gadgets. I can’t wait until the price of Ultra HD television falls within my budget. But even with technology, sometimes they change things just for change sake. Was it really necessary to do away with the Start button in Windows 8? Apparently not, since they put it back with Windows 8.1.

But I really like my routines. These people that try a different way to work just for the sake of change, drive me crazy. I enjoy predictability. I like knowing what to expect on my route and when to expect it.

That’s why I was a little flustered when it was announced that they planned to close Georgetown Road near Turn One of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This was nothing new. It was announced three or four years ago. My hope was that this was a goofy idea that would never come to pass. This fall, it did.

In case you don’t know, the intersection of 16th and Georgetown is no longer an intersection. As planned, Georgetown Road has been torn up near the merger of 16th and Crawfordsville. They have now laid sod and put in a cul-de-Sac just past Stand B. Furthermore, they have put a (gasp) roundabout to thoroughly confuse drivers wanting to go straight on 16th and head towards Main Street in Speedway. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place yesterday afternoon and it opened officially at 5:00 am today.

Roundabout - Before Roundabout - After

For the past few years, I have been spending my May weekends in Speedway – including Race Weekend. My route takes me down Main Street, at least twice a day. Leaving the track; I head out the main gate under the south-end, hang a right onto 16th and get into the far left-hand lane. After sitting through one of the longest red-lights on the planet, I head straight instead of following Crawfordsville Road and go left on Main and head to our hotel from there. I’ve timed it – from the hotel parking lot to inside the track is seven minutes. Race Morning, it’s barely fifteen. I have this route down to a science.

But then someone got the bright idea to change it all. They decided that this needed a park-like setting. They ripped up the existing pavement, re-routed proven routes and disrupted Race Day routines in the process – all the while claiming that this is going to improve traffic flow. Sort of like starting the 1957-58 pace lap from the pits. If you know your history, you know how well that worked out.

If this is going to improve traffic flow and be much easier to navigate, how come the Town of Speedway offered courses a couple of Saturday’s ago at Speedway High on how to navigate the roundabout? When I think of roundabouts, I think of Washington D.C. If you’ve been there, you know how well their traffic flows. We have two now in Nashville. Both seem to add confusion more than anything else. Personally, I don’t find them that confusing. But apparently, the average Joe behind the wheel is befuddled by them. I’ve often wondered how many times they actually go around before they finally get out of it.

OK…I’ll admit that from the photos I’ve seen, it looks much nicer than it did. The famed intersection of 16th and Georgetown was never known for its beauty – unless you were looking to the northeast. Pawn shops and liquor stores seem to be the predominant tenants in that area. But once you jutted to the left and followed 16th, the area suddenly becomes much nicer.

The USAC offices and Conkle Funeral Home hold historical significance in the lore of the Indianapolis 500. Turn left onto Main, and you have one of my favorite areas. With Dawson’s on one end, Charlie Brown’s on the other with AJ Foyt Racing, CFH Racing and the Dallara Factory (and Lino’s Coffee) in between – it’s a nostalgic paradise. Plus, you get all this on the way to the Mug-n-Bun.

Altogether with the addition of the Grand Prix weekend, we spend ten days in May in Indianapolis. I like staying in Speedway. We’re too old to get out and enjoy some of the trendier spots in Indianapolis. We’re happy staying in close proximity to the track, since track activity is what brought us to town in the first place. I love St. Elmo’s, but it’s gotten too crowded and too pricey. Nightlife to Susan and me now means dinner at Dawson’s before turning in.

Last year, it was the new tenderloin – now, this. My whining is mainly about my route to and from the track each day. As I said, I like my routine. By looking at it, this might add or subtract an additional thirty seconds to my route each way. But it’s the disruption and the overall change that I don’t like. Keep in mind, most of this griping is really very much tongue-in-cheek. But with every joke, there is some element of truth. It’s just up to you to figure out how much.

George Phillips

19 Responses to “Change In A Roundabout Way”

  1. It really was an armpit of an area, looks much nicer now and theoretically the traffic circle should help with traffic flow, but if my experience here in Florida and yours in Nashville are any indication, it probably will only add to the collision rate. Years ago traffic circles were the norm, these days, most folks have never seen one and generally appear to be completely overwhelmed as to their function.

  2. A famous address is no more. That is the biggest disappointment.

    This was not done to improve the traffic. The speedway bought all that land across the street and now have expanded the facility. Probably in the wrong direction. If they moved north, anything they did would be an improvement to the area.

    It hasn’t been the same since they tore down the White Castle!

  3. I don’t understand what is so confusing or disruptive about roundabouts.

    • If people just took a couple of minutes out of their busy day of texting to actually study how they work and what the rules are they would realize it is really not that complicated. Of course that would take some actual effort.

  4. DZ-groundedeffects Says:

    I’ve been eyeing this project for appx 7 years now. Once I stumbled upon it accidentally while researching something else, I realized someday it would eliminate our beloved and hallowed camping spot in Lot 3G under the two trees near the iconic water tower.

    Here’s more info on the project than you ever wanted to know:

    Click to access Speed_Zone_Master_Plan.pdf

    Or for those who prefer just the pretty pictures:

    Much as the original 70s Snake Pit was hallowed ground to many that is now inaccessible, so too will our own camping spot that shall be reduced to only those glorious memories that decorum prohibits I regale here.

    The only constant in the universe is change, even in Speedway… eventually.

    • DZ-groundedeffects Says:

      Perhaps the most succinct map of the changes nearest the track is here:

      Click to access aerial1.pdf

      • 中国餐馆在哪里?

        • DZ-groundedeffects Says:

          Crawfordsville Road! 在这里,你的餐厅。最快的自助餐和悠久的历史。还不如它是在20世纪70年代。Johncock有大便溏时,在这里吃饭。他不喜欢中国呢。传说说AJFoyt告诉亚洲的笑话在这里,1977年,很苦恼和愤怒的厨师。愤怒的厨师放在狗的粪便,以AJFoyt牛肉捞面,然后他赢了Indy500。

        • DZ-groundedeffects Says:


  5. If it really does improve traffic flow, and improve the foreground and entrance to the most famous race track in the world, I am all for it. This area could use a facelift in a big way. That corner does not give IMS any favors considering its grandeur and significance.

    Compare this to what NASCAR is doing at Daytona, this is an adequate reflection of the state of things. Daytona is getting a mini- city/entertainment destination and IMS gets a roundabout out front. When people see the finished product at Daytona , it will put that much more pressure on IMS to upgrade.

    IMS however deserves more respect from the surrounding area. Speedway exists because of IMS and the city borders blight in some areas.

  6. Honestly, I am all for this. The intersection of 16th and Georgetown has been a wasteland of torn up concrete and rusting structures for far too long so this was long overdue for a facelift. As for roundabouts, these are the wave of the future in traffic flow management in North America (or the wave of the past in Europe) so we had best get used to them. Up here in Ottawa they are sprouting up all the time, when the first ones were put into large intersections a few years ago they were a bit of a mess, but it didn’t take long for people to figure it out. Personally I have no problem with them, just spend 5 minutes online studying the rules and you will be fine. As for worrying about race day morning, the police do a fantastic job every year of managing traffic flows the best they can, I am confident they will be more than ready.

  7. Truth is that intersection with two right hand turns caused more confusion and accidents than any roundabout ever would. Indy area residents are getting quite used to them these days. They are all over the north suburb of Carmel and neighboring town of Greenfield. Truth is a round about is the center of the city.

    what may of more long term interest than the round about is the closing of and what I suspect will be the ultimate disappearance of Georgetown road. But for what purpose? Miles has talked about the need for more revenue generation for the track. And one way modern stadiums do this and isc and smi tracks as well do is the creation of luxury boxes. In the past at ims such new things were built where there was open ground. There’s less of that now and the suites that exist are a lousy corporate buy. My prediction…wait for it…anticipate massive angst…the area which is currently the Paddock and Georgetown road may get leveled for a new much much taller grandstand structure with a wall of luxury boxes included. I could also envision much of the seating inside the oval disappearing to open up sight lines to the entire track. None of this could happen as long as Georgetown road still exists…

  8. Oh also. I base that on NOTHING.

  9. Chris Lukens Says:

    You just don’t understand. The elitists, if pressed, will tell you Roundabouts are wonderful and , oh so, European. You know, EUROPEAN, as in so much better than anything that any “murican” can come up with. Just like F1 is better than Indycar.

    I feel sorry for anyone trying to turn left from W. Main onto Crawfordsville Rd.

    This is a sop to the same type of elitists that have been trying to change IndyCar into F1 since 1979.

    I voted for “…everyone will hate it.”

    Now get off my lawn !!

  10. I have seen the renderings before but I am glad that DZ has given us a link to look them over again. With that, I like the changes to come and I feel that Speedway, Indiana as well as IMS deserve to have as nice a surrounding as these pictures render.

  11. The round about will improve traffic flow. It shouldn’t be much of an adjustment for Indy residents. After all, Indianapolis was designed and laid out around a round about. In just over a week “The World’s Largest Christmas Tree” will once again be the center of attraction on Monument Circle, Indy’s original round about.

  12. I really, really dislike Roundabouts. Despite being younger and more liberal, and an auto enthusiast, I really dislike the type of auto enthusiast/liberal/academic people who love roundabouts. Perhaps they are more efficient and theoretically safer, but in practice they are inconvenient and mostly cause problems when introduced into the USA. As we are going through winter weather I also feel that their safety in the winter is suspect, though I grant that 4 way stops also have slide through problems. Still I’d rather risk sliding through a light/stop sign than going two wide with other drivers turning sharply on ice.

    • I live in the second coldest national capital in the world (Ottawa, Canada) and trust me, we get a ton of snow. People up here got used to the roundabouts fairly quickly, even the ones at major intersections and I am sure the good people of Indianapolis will get used to this one. The risk of accident is no more than a traffic light, even after a foot or two of snow.

  13. Stupid foreign ride-buying roundabout. What’s next, police sirens that make that “e-aww, e-aww, e-aww” sound?

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