May 17, 2023 - News

31 individuals become U.S. citizens at IMS

Our newest U.S. citizens pose for a photo with IMS President Doug Boles and several drivers in front of the track's famed pagoda. Photo: Arika Herron/Axios

Before it was called the Indianapolis 500, the 500-mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was called the "International Sweepstakes" because its founders wanted to bring in people from all over the world.

Driving the news: IMS held a naturalization ceremony on Tuesday, during which 31 people from 24 countries took the oath of allegiance and became U.S. citizens.

  • It's just the second time IMS has hosted a naturalization ceremony.
  • IMS President Doug Boles called the ceremony "one of the most special moments of the year" for the track.
  • "Obviously, we love race day," he said. "But when we have an opportunity to welcome 31 of you to U.S. citizenship along with each of us … it means an awful lot to us."

How it works: Taking the oath and receiving the certificate of naturalization are the final steps for those wanting to become citizens.

  • Southern District of Indiana Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt opened court at the track inside the East Chalet in the shadow of its famed pagoda.
  • "How cool it is, guys, that you get to be naturalized here, at the racing capital of the world?" she said.

Of note: IndyCar drivers Will Power and Scott McLaughlin attended the ceremony.

  • Power, who won the Indy 500 in 2018, is Australian-born but became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2019.
  • McLaughlin is from New Zealand and is working toward becoming a U.S. citizen, too.

What they're saying: "Everything we do now is for the United States," said Josh Mbamba, a newly naturalized citizen from Cameroon.

  • Mbamba said he came to the U.S. five years ago to join his family. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University last year with a degree in human resource management and is looking for a job in the field.

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