The Indianapolis 500 mile race is the most recognized open wheel car race in the universe. With so much tradition surround this race and with all the legendary race car drivers which have been Indy 500 champions, every young race car enthusiast that has ever dreamed of blazing around a track has pictured themselves doing it on the Indy 500 track. The name of this track is none other than the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Unlike many other tracks which have handed their names over to sponsors, Indy has not, and hopefully never will.
Have You Heard of Speedway, Indiana?
Here is a little known tidbit that even many race enthusiasts don’t know. The Indy 500 takes place in the town of Speedway, Indiana, which is entirely surrounded by Indianapolis, Indiana. The town consists of the track and that’s about it.
It’s Been Around A Long Time
Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built back in 1909, making it the second oldest race track in the country (only one in Milwaukee is older), and it is a monster. With 257,000 permanent seats and 150,000 more infield spots, more spectators can watch the Indy 500 live than any other sporting event.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a 2.5-mile track. It is oval in shape with corners that aren’t nearly as banked as some of the other American race tracks. Still, the corners are steeper than European race tracks. The long straightaways are 5/8 of a mile long and the short straightaways are 1/8 of a mile. The track itself is asphalt and the original designers can pat themselves on the back because the shape of the track has changed very little over the years.
Records Are Meant to be Broken
For years it was Arie Luyendyk who held the record for the fastest Indianapolis 500, but that record was put to rest in 2013. Tony Kanaan won the race with a average speed of 187.433, crushing Luyendyk’s previous record of 185.981 mph. That wasn’t the only record that was broken in 2013. The race featured 68 lead changes and 14 different leaders, both new records. It doesn’t stop there. The 26 cars to finish the race were the most ever as were the 5,863 laps completed by the field. 2013 also saw a record low in cation laps (21) and the longest stretch of caution free racing (133-laps).
The Indy 500 track has been recognized as a piece of history by more than just racing fans. In 1975, it was placed on the National Register of Historical Places and was given the designation of a National Historic Landmark in 1987. That makes it the only facility in the United States related to auto racing to garner that honor.
Why They Call it the Brickyard
Many race fans simply know the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by its nickname – the Brickyard. This name comes from a look back at the very first race at the storied track which was run on crushed stone and tar. As you might expect, if you have ever gone at high speeds on gravel roads, it was an accident waiting to happen. In an effort to make the track safer, Carl Fisher, one of the track’s founders, came up with the solution of covering the track with 3.2 million bricks. Three feet of these original bricks still remain at the finish line.