Columbus native Meredith Newton Walker is living the racing fan’s dream, working at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Indianapolis 500.
The 27-year-old grew up in a family of race fans and caught race fever as a result. She watched and attended the Indy 500 with her family, hidden in the crowds of hundreds of thousands of visitors that come to the race each year. This year will be different as she will experience her first 500 race from the inside.
Walker works as a client services representative, assisting 50 to 60 clients at a time that range from small- to large-scale companies who come in to watch racing activities from hospitality suites.
Walker provides clients in club seating with information to improve their stay while answering questions they may have.
Her responsibilities include the 500 Club, Brickyard 400 Club and new Hulman Terrace Clubs areas. The Hulman Terrace Club, which opened this month, is located on the front straightaway and has seating in excess of 1,000. Tickets, which are $1,750 each, are good for all 16 days the club is open this year.
Walker received a degree in business management and marketing from Purdue University in 2011. Upon college graduation she moved to New York City and helped an educational nonprofit organization recruit teachers for Brooklyn schools.
After becoming engaged on Christmas Day 2014 to now-husband Jack Walker, she began to reach out to people in the Indianapolis area about employment opportunities and learned of an open position at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
That’s where she met Ellen Saul, director of premium services at the speedway. After meeting with Saul and other IMS employees, Walker was offered the job and began work in September.
Besides the Indy 500, she has the opportunity to participate in each event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway throughout the racing season, including the June 19 Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational and July 24 Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard and next year’s mid-May Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Walker, who describes herself as energetic, said the fast-paced position fits her to a tee, but the work environment is her favorite part.
“The people I work with rank the highest — they are amazing,” said Walker. “We have such a close-knit team, and it is so nice working with people who have your back.”
Her first Indy 500 Race Day as an employee on Sunday is sure to be busy, with her team arriving at 4:30 a.m. Walker said she is raring to go.
“I am loving every minute,” she said.
Family: Parents Dr. Richard Newton, a Columbus dentist, and Barbara Newton, First Presbyterian Preschool director; sister Jordan, 26; brother Cole, 24.
Education: Columbus North High School graduate, 2007; Purdue University, business management and marketing degree, 2011.
The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 will be broadcast live on ABC, Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials announced Wednesday. That became possible after all suites, reserved seating and infield general admission tickets sold out.
This is the first time since 1949 that the race will be broadcast live in its entirely in central Indiana.
WRTV, the Indianapolis ABC network affiliate, will also broadcast tape-delayed coverage of the race at 7 p.m. and again at 10 a.m. Monday.