This year is the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500, the world’s greatest motorsport monument, so it’s in season to reflect on the storied history of the racing event and its place in the world of motorsport.
Eldora Speedway is named after one of the greatest drivers in the history of motorsport: Al Unser, Jr. It is arguably the biggest racetrack outside of the Indy 500, with a seating capacity of over 70,000 spectators and a historic record of over 19 million miles run. The track recently celebrated its 70th birthday and is still going strong, so it’s time to celebrate this incredible track and its incredible history, while at the same time looking ahead to the future.
The Historic Track
Eldora Speedway is best known for being the site of Indy 500 races, but it has a storied history as a speedway prior to its association with the Indy 500. Built in the 1920s as a race track for the Indianapolis 500, it was the first purpose-built speedway, and the second track overall behind Daytona in Florida. Unser, Jr. is credited with raising motor racing’s popularity in the United States, as he was the first to win the Indy 500 on three separate occasions, in 1950, 1951 and 1953.
As the site of the greatest race in the world, it is fitting that Eldora takes center stage and the Indy 500 plays a supporting role, however, the former is a much better draw for spectators, with an average of 84,000 people showing up to watch the action each year. This equates to around a quarter of the track’s total capacity. The Indianapolis 500 has always been a special event for its fans, with many of them traveling from all over the world to be there for the occasion. With the prestigious auto race coming up this May, it’s well worth planning your trip.
The Present And Future
It has been a whirlwind of activity at Eldora over the past year, as the track has been undergoing a massive facelift and expansion, to meet the demands of the 500th anniversary of the Indy 500. A brand-new grandstand was built, along with an equally striking paddock area and press box.
With the addition of an upper deck and hospitality areas, this year’s capacity is set to rise to 75,000. The expansion has been so successful that half of the seats are already sold, with demand outstripping supply, especially with restricted tickets. The world’s grandest motorsport stadium is set to welcome its 100,000,000th visitor on April 30th, when the Chicago White Sox play the Cleveland Indians. The game will be broadcast live on TV, with around 250,000 expected to flock to the ballpark in person.
This is undoubtedly a landmark moment for Eldora, as it is the first modern-day track to reach this milestone. The entire region has been on tenterhooks, as the popularity of motor racing in the United States stands at an all-time high, with more people getting behind the wheel than ever before. With the recent surge in TV viewership, especially with the increased use of platforms like YouTube and Twitter, the spotlight will now turn to the track and its drivers, as they look to further cement their place in history, as the first motorsport dynasty.