The History of Indianapolis Motor Speedway

By: Stephen Dando  (Twitter: @SteveonTheGrid )

Carl Fisher and his business partners broke ground for the historic and iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway on March 15th, 1909. Carl Fisher and his partners sold the track to Eddie Rickenbacker, a race car driver and WWI flying ace, in 1927. Rickenbacker then sold the track to the Hulman-George family on November 14th, 1945 The Hulman-George family still owns and operates the track. The 2.5 mile rectangular- shaped track is known as “the motor racing capital of the world”.

The oval race course was once all brick, 2.3 million bricks to be exact.  Today only a yard of bricks at the start/finish line still remain, giving IMS the nickname “the Brickyard.” The track hosted its first auto race on August 19, 1909. NASCAR made its first appearance on August 6, 1994 with the inaugural of the Brickyard 400, won by Jeff Gordon.

Over the years Indianapolis Motor Speedway has hosted over 250 races, using both the oval and road courses, including: Formula1, IndyCar, Untied SportsCar, Moto GP and, of course, NASCAR. IMS is the world’s oldest continually operated race course.

This world- famous race course, has some unusual features such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of fame. The museum, opened in 1956, is nestled in the middle of the infield.  For a mere $8 you can ride a bus around the track. The Brickyard Crossing golf resort and hotel is also located on the grounds. This is an 18 hole golf course with 4 of the holes being in the infield. This famous venue even has its own zip code and small town. Speedway, Indiana, a tiny town with one main street, is located next to the track.

In 1998-2000 the speedway underwent some major renovations including a modernization of the famous 5- tiered timing and scoring pagoda. This is now a sleek modern building built of concrete, steel and plate glass. During this time, a 2.621 mile road course was incorporated into the existing oval. In 2014 further additions were made to the track– by adding big screen HD TV’s around the course and making the famous scoring tower digital.

I have been lucky enough to have attended many events (including 2 Brickyard 400s and several Indy 500s) at the world- famous super speedway. The speedway is on the national register of historic places. The track is lined with massive aluminum bleachers.  Let me tell you that there isn’t a bad seat in the house!  There are a total of 257,325 permanent seats, and with infield seating the capacity rises to a total of 400,000, making the track the highest capacity sports venue in the world.

Ticket prices are very reasonable and the people in Indianapolis are very friendly in that mid- western American way. It is the kind of place that you can ask your neighbor to watch your bag, and come back an hour later to find that it hasn’t been touched. The food is great, with large American- style portions. The “Brickyard Burger” is a must try. The helpful and friendly track staff are known as “yellow shirts” because, well, they wear yellow shirts.

If you get the chance to visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to see the Brickyard 400 or any other event at the track, I would highly recommend it.  It will no doubt provide some great racing action and give you a lifetime of good memories.

The NASCAR track record is 188.889 MPH or 47.647 seconds. This record was set by Kevin Harvick on July 26th, 2014. Kyle Busch was the 2015 Brickyard 400 winner with an average speed of 131.656 MPH. Jeff Gordon has won the race a record 5 times followed by Jimmie Johnson with 4 wins, and Dale Jarett and Tony Stewart with 2 wins each.

Below is a list of the Brickyard 400 winning drivers.

1994 Jeff Gordon
1995 Dale Earnhardt
1996 Dale Jarrett
1997 Ricky Rudd
1998 Jeff Gordon
1999 Dale Jarrett
2000 Bobby Labonte
2001 Jeff Gordon
2002 Bill Elliott
2003 Kevin Harvick
2004 Jeff Gordon
2005 Tony Stewart
2006 Jimmie Johnson
2007 Tony Stewart
2008 Jimmie Johnson
2009 Jimmie Johnson
2010 Jamie McMurray
2011 Paul Menard
2012 Jimmie Johnson
2013 Ryan Newman
2014 Jeff Gordon
2015 Kyle Busch

All photos by Stephen Dando

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