The New Tenderloin At IMS

Most know that I follow the credo of “Change is Bad”. In this case, I think most might agree with me. When I heard that Levy Restaurants were taking over the concessions, I saw it as a good thing. They had promised to upgrade the menu items at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Let’s be honest – most of the offerings were average, at best. But, there was one selection that was the favorite of many that I felt like was “hands-off” when it came to any upgrades – the tenderloin.

Being from Nashville, I can’t claim to be a connoisseur of tenderloins. After all, I come from the south and this is definitely a Midwestern dish. I would take exception to anyone from here to go south and start criticizing Tennessee country ham. But I loved the tenderloin sandwich at IMS. For $6.00, it was deliciously simple. It was a deep-fried pork patty pounded into submission and a plain bun. The meat was so oversized compared to the bun, it looked both artistic and comical at the same time. Then the simple masterpiece was wrapped in foil to keep it warm. You were free to add whichever condiments you chose. I preferred nothing but mayonnaise and a slice of dill pickle – that was it. It tasted so good and so bad for you, it made this southerner crave the Month of May, just so I could get my fill of tenderloins.


Like most things that I like in my life; the IMS tenderloin that we have all known to love and crave – has gone the way of the roadster. Something so plain and simple (and perfect) cannot survive in today’s complicated world.

Introducing the “new and improved” tenderloin that has jumped in price from $6.00 to $9.00: first, a word of warning – if you don’t want a lot of superfluous junk on your tenderloin, ask for it plain. I made the mistake of simply saying “I’d like a tenderloin”. What was handed to me was a shock. Gone was the familiar foil to keep it warm. Instead, there was this monstrosity sitting in a basket that made me ask if it was mine. The familiar giant seasoned patty was replaced by two smaller patties that lacked any flavor. What made me ask if it was mine was that it was dripping with unfamiliar mustard.

After she assured me it was, I reluctantly took it and began to inspect it further. Imagine my surprise to find bacon under the bun. That was nothing compared to the shock of finding pepper jack cheese, chopped purple onions and (gasp) jalapeños. First of all, I don’t do jalapeños on anything. I enjoy spicy foods, but I don’t like the flavor of jalapeños. I find them disgusting.


While I immediately raked off the jalapeños, the flavor was still in the bun. It overpowered everything. I could barely taste bacon, cheese or the meat. Just jalapeños, onions and mustard. When asked if they had mayonnaise, they replied that there was none. I then asked, for future reference, if it was possible to order this plain. She looked at me like I had two heads, but said that I could.

With no foil to keep it warm, it quickly turned cold in the stiff breeze. With all the junk on it, the bun quickly fell apart. For the rest of the day, my hands smelled like mustard. That was nothing compared to the foul taste that followed me throughout the afternoon.

I understand that nothing lasts forever. But this was a popular item that suffered change for no reason. It needed no update. It was sort of like the “New” Coke of the mid-eighties. Why mess with a good thing?

If you think I’m just griping because something else has changed at IMS – I am not alone. This seemed to be a popular rant among most of the fans I spoke with yesterday. My hope is that enough fans will complain this year and IMS President Doug Boles will see to it that the old tenderloin returns. It’s fine that they added new menu items and updated some others. But the IMS tenderloin was a classic. It needed to be left alone.

George Phillips

Update: In the interest of fairness, I just found that they are selling the old-style tenderloin at selected stand around the track. I found mine just inside Turn Two, near the museum. Order is restored to the universe.

9 Responses to “The New Tenderloin At IMS”

  1. there are only two options when condimentizing a breaded tenderloin. 1–mayo, lettuce, tomato. 2–onion & mustard.

    but aside from my personal prejudices, the sandwich you described is garish and overdone. you should certainly be able to order whatever you want on top of a tenderloin, I find it strange that all that stuff is automatically applied? really?

  2. SkipinSC Says:

    Changing the tenderloin is a SACRILEGE! Why, it’s almost like going from the MONTH of May to the WEEK AND A HALF of May or trying to have only TWO days of qualifications. WHAT are they THIKING? What’s next? The Indianapolis 300?

    • billytheskink Says:

      The Indianapolis 300 did happen once, due to a world war. It ought to have taken the same to change the tenderloin.

  3. Folks, George is selling himself short! He IS as much a connoisseur of the famous Indiana tenderloin sandwich as anyone on the planet. He and Susan cook them at home in the dead of winter because they can’t wait until May to get one. So, in my opinion, even though I will see for myself (because this old Hoosier is also a connoisseur of the delicious tenderloin sandwich), I think what George has written this morning bares a most studied look. Jalapeño on the tenderloins? NO!

  4. I was pretty concerned about this when I heard that the tenderloin was changing (there were pictures of it a few weeks back somewhere on the internet, along with pics of “eggs’n’tots, track poutine and the other stuff Levy is introducing this year). Sounds like this new $9 tenderloin is an abomination, but I’ll still probably have to try one, just to see for myself. Happily, I’ve read just this morning in TrackSide Online’s report that you can get the “old style” tenderloin in certain locations around the Track. I’ll definitely be checking that out on Race Day, since my Race Day lunch is not to be screwed with…

  5. Ron Ford Says:

    Overpriced blasphemy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. madtad1 Says:

    1. Not worth the price, even if it was $6
    2. No spice in the crust, none. Totally flavorless.
    3. Jalapeños ? Really?
    4. Where’s Gordon Ramsey to do a tasting when you really need him?!

  7. I’m weeping quietly after reading this.

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