SPEEDWAY, Ind. — One of the most memorable moments for a high school graduate is hearing their name, walking across stage and receiving their diploma. But for some in the class of 2020, it’s a moment they’ll never have.
“We all remember our high school graduation,” said Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles. “It’s a big moment.”
Speedway High School seniors planned to graduate in the school’s auditorium on May 29, but school leaders canceled it because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“To see them lose out on many of the festivities and celebrations that traditionally come with the end of your senior year is heartbreaking,” Principal Lucas Zartman said.
Now instead, they’ll drive on the track at IMS and walk across the yard of bricks.
“I can’t think of a better place in Speedway to hold the graduation ceremony for our seniors,” Zartman said.
Zartman had been soliciting ideas from staff and families on how to pull off graduation. For a town coined “The Racing Capital of the World,” graduating while behind the wheel of a car just made sense.
“It’ll just be the students and families in the vehicles, and in essence just be a drive-through graduation,” Zartman said.
Details are still in the works. As of now the plan involves a procession of cars entering the track as students arrive at the finish line one-by-one, hear their name called, and walk across the yard of bricks to get their diploma.
“Being able to bring their car on the racetrack, stop on the yard of bricks, get out, get that diploma, and get a photo taken on the yard of bricks and then drive your car on out of the speedway is something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” Boles said.
Boles says as far as he’s aware, it’s the first graduation to happen at the Speedway and will probably be the only one.
Fans may not get to see a champion cross the finish line at IMS this May, but 125 families and their loved ones will.
“At least we get to have somebody crossing the yard of bricks and maybe they can all go have their own glass of milk afterwards,” Boles said.
Speedway High School hopes to live stream the event for family and friends who can’t attend.
In total, they expect the event to last two to three hours.