The Brickyard, home to the famous Indy 500. This speedway in Indianapolis is one of the most iconic in the US, it home to the Indy 500 race that is so dominant in its sport that what is essentially formula one racing is known as indycar in the US.
The big 2.5 mile oval of the brickyard is six miles west of downtown Indianapolis in the appropriately named suburb of Speedway. Dating to 1909, there are seats for over 250,000. Add in the infield crowd and you can have a crowd of 400,000, the largest capacity in the World. The track was originally packed soil with gravel on top. Safety concerns after the first races led to repaving the track with over three million bricks. Today, the original bricks remain only at the start-finish line in a three foot wide strip.
Many races in a year were pared down to one grand race of 500 miles held on Memorial Day – the last Monday in May – with the first running in 1911. Since then, lots of automotive racing history has occurred here at the Brickyard. Formula One Grand Prix is also held here in addition to motorcycle racing and there are four holes inside the oval of an 18-hole golf course.
For those without clubs or race cars, we can visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum on the south end of the oval between turns 1 and 2. There are tours of the infield available and for a little more money, you can record a lap. Except for the time of our visit when there was some six to seven inches of snow lying atop the asphalt.
A trip to Indianapolis is not complete without a visit to the Indy 500 Motor Speedway, built in 1909. It does not matter if you are a racing car buff or simply curious. The otherwise sleepy side of Indianapolis comes alive on Memorial Day weekend with the Indy 500, a 500 mile race participated in by international teams and attended by around 400,000 fans. Then in late July, they run the NASCAR Allstate 400, a 400 mile stock car race, second only to the one in Daytona Beach. Finally, in late August, they run the Red Bull Indianapolis Cup, a motocycle race. The Speedway is easy to find, it's at the northwest side of the city and the museum is in the middle of the complex, you get there via a tunnel under the spectator stands. The museum entrance fee is only $3 and for another $3 you can take the bus that will bring you around the 2.5-mile track with a commentary - the remaining brick starting/finish line, gasoline alley and so on. Riding the bus is not quite riding a racing car but that's the closest you will ever get. But the museum is another story - countless racing cars on display, from the oldest to the newest. They also show photos of the past champions and the history of the complex. You can even have a photo at the wheel of a formula car on display. Cheap thrills indeed for $3. So even if you are simply curious, why not?
Take time to visit the museum in the middle of the track. We took the bus ride around the track, it wasn't the fastest lap driven on the track, but we can say we have done a lap at Indy :) they slow down for you at the start/finish line in order to see the bricks on the track.
We visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when we were in Indianapolis for a family reunion. The planning committe had arranged a bus tour which took us to the brickyard area, and the Pagoda area. The bus will also take a lap on the speedway if there are not cars practicing on the speedway. We were not so fortunate, we could not take the lap.
This event is certainly not my forte so please help me out if I have some of these labeled incorrectly!
When visiting the Indianapolis Speedway, take the bus out to the track. Granted, a bus isn't as heartpounding as racing, alone around the track, but you get an idea of how the driver's must feel. The bus takes you past the last remianing strip of brick pavement in the "Brick Yard" and past the winner's circle. It's affordable, and I think fans of all ages will enjoy.
Take your camera, with a full digital card, because the museum is cool. There are dozens of cars in here, from the first winner of the Indianapolis 500, origianl Harley Davidson cycles, classic cars and race history. You really get to see how the sport has changed over the years, and how our technology just keeps improving. If you're a race fan - euphoria. If you're not, you will be when you're here.
There are three 'main' races per year here, the Formula 1, Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400.
Even if you're not a racing fan, this is a unique experience, and is reason enough to visit!
The Formula 1 race is an international event, and thousands of European and South American fans attend. This normally sedate midwestern town becomes a hot, trendy international destination for a week around the F1! There is a tremendous amount of pagentry associated with the event, and various car clubs show antique cars in town before the race (I saw dozens of old Jaguars parked around War Memorial Circle).
The race is hard to follow for a neophyte like me, but the sheer size of the track, speed of the cars, and vast numbers of fans in attendance, with national flags, songs, and energy make this an outstanding event.
See the travelogue page for more pictures.
Indianapolis is the home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where 3 motor races are featured annually: the Indianapolis 500, the Bricktown 400, and the United States Grand Prix (Formula 1: this year to be held on 26 - 28 of September 2003).
Also located at the Speedway is the 'Indianapolis 500 Hall of Fame Museum'.
Indianapolis Mini-Marathon that occurs near the first of the month of May is designed to humble even the most prepared runner or walker in the right conditions. The start time temperature is a good indicator of how your race is going to proceed. It's been known to be cold and rainy one year and hot and humid the next...that's just at the sound of the start gun. When you're entering the gates of the Indianapolis speedway, some 5 miles into the race (it could be more or less) it's hard to imagine how those 2 1/2 miles are going to be and how many blisters you'll wind up with. DON'T GIVE UP . Remember from this point on if you quit you walk back unless you have a friend handy to park on a side road when you bale out of the race. It's an experience for everyone young and old and to be in the company of that many runners/walkers at one time is sure to produce chillbumps when you come up to a hill and look forwards and backwards seeing the large mass of people that seem to be moving as one.
Tour the Hall of Fame Museum. There are over 75 cars on display. The museum is open 364 days a year(closed Christmas Day) from 9am to 5pm. Ticket for the museum are $3 for adults and children 6-15 yrs are $1. You can also take a bus ride tour of the actual track.
Any trip to Indianapolis would not be complete without a visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The motor speedway ws built in 1909 and has gone many improvements over all these years. Home of the 'Indianapolis 500' the greatest spectacle in auto racing and the world's largest one day sporting event! The 500 is joined now by NASCAR's Brickyard 400 and more recently the United States Grand Prix. weather permitting and when the track is not in use there are bus tours around the 2.5 mile oval, as well as the Hall of Fame Museum which displays many winning cars and well as different memrobilia, antique cars and equipment. A flim about the tracks history is presented every have hour in the Rony Hulman Theater. The speedway also houses an 18 hole golf course and a hotel once just called the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hotel---or we just called it the 'Speedway' hotel, it is now appropriatly called Brickyard Crossing because the start finish line is still a row of bricks just as it was (as the entire track) in 1909.