Indy 500 Track
Posted by - Jimmy Boyd
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.
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.
The stories 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.
There have been a slew of drivers and cars to race this track since the inaugural Indy 500 in 1911, but one man holds every single speed record for this event and that man is none other than Arie Luyendyk. Luyendyk won the Indy 500 in 1990 at a record average speed of 185.981 miles per hour. Six years later he set the rest of the speed records. He set the record of the fastest practice lap at 239.260 miles per hour, the fastest single qualifying lap at 237.498 miles per hour, and the fastest four qualifying laps at 236.986 miles per hour. We can honestly say that no other driver has understood the nuances of the track better.
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.
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.