Local social club to host Opulence at the Speedway

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The Opulent Crowns of the Heartland, a 29-member social club for women, is hosting Opulence at the Speedway on May 18, 2024. (Photo provided/Opulent Crowns of the Heartland)
The Opulent Crowns of the Heartland, a 29-member social club for women, is hosting Opulence at the Speedway on May 18, 2024. (Photo provided/Opulent Crowns of the Heartland)

Luxury is coming to the Indianapolis 500.

Guests will be able to enjoy the Indy 500 qualifications weekend with a blend of style, glamor and camaraderie during Opulence at the Speedway, an upscale event for Black and brown Hoosiers hosted by the Opulent Crowns of the Heartland, a social club for women. The event, which takes place on May 18, will feature VIP hospitality, exclusive access, special guest appearances and more, said Christia Hicks, vice president of Opulent Crowns of the Heartland.

“We definitely want to open up the racing community to some folks that may not necessarily have been exposed to racing and may not have felt like they’ve been welcomed in the space,” Hicks said.

Opulent Crowns of the Heartland was founded in 2018, when a group of 29 women, each of whom are doctors, lawyers, C suite executives and philanthropists, got together to go see Michelle Obama speak at an event hosted by the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, Jessica Brand, event chair, told the Recorder. The social club focuses on creating social events and civic activities to foster a sense of community and enhance quality of life for its members.

Throughout the long history of racing and motorsports, people of color have typically been left out or unwelcome in these spaces and, Hicks said, Opulence at the Speedway is a new opportunity to help introduce the community to and diversify these events.

“Indianapolis is a race town and everyone loves the 500, and we want to engage in this experience to open it up as a city that is welcoming to all, and adding this element of inclusion to the race experience is something that we feel very passionate about,” Hicks said. “It also allows people to mix and mingle in a different space and continue to learn about each other and allow the city to be more welcoming.”

The theme of the day is all shades of pink, and Hicks said that elevated feel of glamor extends to the private chalet, white leather couches, a DJ, premium bar and refreshments. 

Myles Rowe, a driver for Force Indy and currently the only Black racer in IndyCar, will make a guest appearance during Opulence at the Speedway and guests will have access to gasoline alley, the garage and private access to grandstand seating.

“The Crowns and the Opulence at the Speedway represent an opportunity for the broader community to come out and enjoy and have a fun time at the speedway during the month of May, which, you know, we have hundreds of thousands of people come in here,” Rod Reid, co-owner of Force Indy. “To have that presence that they’ve created in the chalet and for us to be a part of it is just so fulfilling to me.”

Reid, who is also the founder and president of NXG Racing, said it is a blessing for himself and the Force Indy team to be a part of an event like Opulence at the Speedway. Although he is not the first Black man to own an IndyCar team — that honor goes to Doc Jim Logan — he said being a part of the support and effort to hire Black and brown people is amazing. 

Since Force Indy’s creation in 2021, Reid said they have influenced more than a dozen positions for people of color, from racers to mechanics to engineers.

“There is a presence of people of color in IndyCar racing,” Reid said. “It’s fortunate for us, unfortunate for the sport that Myles Rowe is the only Black driver in the IndyCar system. To be there, to show folks that we are part of the series, and he’s doing well … he’s a top 10 driver for sure.”

Opulence at the Speedway takes place May 18 from noon to 4 p.m. The VIP hour is from 11 a.m. to noon. 

Ticket sales for the event are now closed, but guests can still attend qualifying weekend by purchasing tickets at indianapolismotorspeedway.com. Force Indy will be competing in the grand prix on May 10 and NXG will be competing in exhibition go cart races on the IMS museum lot on May 11.

For more information about Opulent Crowns of the Heartland, visit sites.google.com/view/indycrowns. For more information about Force Indy, visit forceindy.com

This story has been updated. A previous version included a quote that stated Opulence at the Speedway was in partnership with IMS. That is incorrect. It is in partnership with Force Indy. A previous version also reported Myles Rowe was the first Black IndyCar racer. That is incorrect. He is currently the only Black IndyCar racer. We apologize for the error. The Recorder makes every attempt to correct its mistakes.

Contact Arts & Culture Reporter Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.