It’s no surprise Dave Shaw is a race fan. He’s an Indy native and his parents attended the Indy 500 for years before he was born.
Even after his dad’s work took the family to the Chicago area when he was young, Shaw remained a fan.
“I was the kid that had Bobby Unser posters and A.J. Foyt posters and Johnny Rutherford posters and Mario Andretti posters up his wall. Michael Jordan was big time then and Walter Payton," said Shaw. "While I was enthused about Michael Jordan, I was all about racing.”
When he was little, Shaw remembers spending every May with his grandmother who lived in an apartment in Speedway, allowing his parents to be at the track from carb day through race day.
“So, 1986, I was 9-years-old and the race was rained out twice that year. It (the race) was on Tuesday," he said. "And my mom and dad both had to go back to work, so my grandma took me to the race – at that point, they were letting people in for free," he smiled. "Loved every minute of it and I’ve missed one race since 1986 and it was the year I got married.”
Shaw’s family moved back to the Indy area about the time he started high school. His football coach got him involved with directing traffic at what was then Deer Creek Music Center – now Klipsch. That introduced him to the concept of event management
“Twenty-five years ago when I got into events and you know facility management, I could do this for a living, and that’s when my quest to get here really started,” Shaw said.
Now that he's senior director of IMS facility management and planning, Shaw says everybody’s favorite question is where are the best seats?
“My grandmother had the same seats in the Northwest Vista since World War II, so, I’m partial to turn four and the Northwest Vista," he said. "It depends on who you ask. I would say up on the top of paddock penthouse. We’ve added three rows [of seating] up on top of what, at the time, was the highest seating on the entire facility. With the exception of the view obstruction of the Pagoda, you can see all around the race track.”
Shaw’s office, in the blue IMS headquarters, has a window with a view of the track, a table covered with blue prints and a credenza with a coveted helmet that Bobby Unser gave to him. It’s the space where he oversees everything for the 107-year-old Speedway -- from the construction of new temporary suites to installing WIFI hotspots to planning events.
Shaw says race day for him now lasts 48 hours – beginning the day before about 6 a.m.
“I stay on site at the track starting from Wednesday of race weekend through Monday. Starting race day about 2 a.m., it’s kind of following the flow of where we anticipate the problems.”
Shaw credits a great boss and IMS team with pulling off the largest sporting event in the world and says he gets a chill when he realizes where he’s working for this 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.
"It’s hard. It’s a lot of work. But it’s something that I am proud of and I cherish and I love coming to work everyday," Shaw said. "It’s an honor.“