Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Welcome to America’s speedway! The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built on 328 acres of farmland 7 miles north-west of downtown Indianapolis in the spring of 1909. It didn’t start out as one of the most famous racetracks in the world. It was planned as a year-round testing facility for the fast-growing automobile industry in Indiana. Occasional race meets would be presented at the track, featuring those very same manufacturers racing their products against each other. The basic marketing logic being that spectators would be more apt to purchase a new car if they saw its performance on a race-track.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway was originally four turns, each banked at nine degrees and 12 minutes and measuring exactly 440 yards from entrance to exit, were linked together by a pair of long straights and, at the north and south ends of the property, by a pair of short straights to form a rectangular-shaped 2 ½ mile track as dictated by the confines of the available land.
Check out these track statistics:
Road Course: total track length: 2.605 miles (4.192 kilometers)
Main straight length: 3,037 feet (926 meters)
Back straight length: 1,755 feet (535 meters)
Total turns: 13 (Left turns – 4; Right turns – 9)
Average track width: 46 feet (14 meters)
Expected Lap Time: 72 seconds
Expected average speed: 130 mph (210 kph)
Expected highest speed: 187 mph (301 kph)
Race Distance: 190.294 miles (306.235 km), 73 laps
Time limit on Race: FIA rules stipulate that Formula 1 races have a maximum time limit of two hours. This race should be completed in less than two hours, barring an emergency stoppage.
The original surface of Indianapolis Motor Speedway was made of nothing but crushed rock and tar, which proved to be disastrous at the opening motorcycle and automobile racing events in August of 1909. So a staggering 3,200,000 paving bricks were imported by rail from the western part of the state. They were laid on their sides in a bed of sand and fixed with mortar, thus inspiring the nickname “The Brickyard.” The name has stood forever more.
Asphalt was first applied to the rougher portions of the track in 1936, and by 1941, all but the greater part of the straightaway had become blacktop. The remainder of the bricks were finally covered over in the fall of 1961. Most of the original paving bricks are still in place underneath the modern asphalt surface, with only the famous “yard of bricks” still exposed at the start/finish line as a nostalgic reminder of the past.
The track has changed ownership only twice. With Carl Fisher heavily involved in the development of Miami Beach and Jim Allison’s nearby engineering company growing rapidly, the foursome sold Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1927 to a group headed up by WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker (Rickenbacker had actually driven in several Indy 500s before he ever knew how to fly).
These days the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, opened in 1909, is the world’s largest spectator facility and the only racetrack to host the Indy Racing League, NASCAR and Formula One. Since 1911, the Speedway has been the home of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500 each May. The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (formerly Brickyard 400) has quickly become one of NASCAR’s most coveted races since the inaugural event in 1994 and heats up the track in late July. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway completed the Triple Crown of Racing in 2000 with the addition of June’s United States Grand Prix, the only Formula One race run in the United States.