It’s a question that gets asked a lot around these parts. Most people are familiar with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as it’s one of the first places that comes to mind when you think of an American race track. However, not many people know how long the track actually is, which led me to researching this topic. I figured that since this is kind of a common question, I might as well address it completely and honestly. So, here are the most accurate figures possible as to how long the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is.
The Complete Length Of Indianapolis Speedway: 1.997 miles
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the longest straight track in the world. It is also one of the few tracks that are actually 1.997 miles long. For reference, most tracks are between 1 and 1.3 miles. The track was actually built on a base of 1.85 miles, and the 0.222 mile straight that leads into the first turn was originally a cork and broom pole, which was replaced by a start finish line in 1914.
The 1.997 mile straightaway forms a complete loop. However, since there are no turns, it never really ends. The track is slightly undulating in places, but the straightaway mostly consists of a flat concrete surface. One cool thing about the track is that is is completely surrounded by walls, so you feel like you’re driving in a vacuum. It’s a great way to drive a race car (if you’ve ever driven one, you know what I mean).
When Does The Race Start/End?
For decades, the Indianapolis 500 was a single, 120-lap race that ended in a photo finish. The race was an all-day affair that occasionally ended in a thundering crash. It was not uncommon for there to be over 100 lead changes during a single race. These days, the speedway has four distinct races, and the starting point for the entire season is determined by a combination of the four. The first two of the four are the Indy Lights races, which are one-hour, 50-lap sprints. The final two are the Indiana Pacers games, which are two-hour, 75-lap monster truck events.
Since the inception of the IndyCar Series in 2011, the two longer events have been replaced by two 50-lap sprints, which take place on successive Sundays. The first of these is the IndyCar Grand Prix on April 8th, and the second is the Indianapolis 500 on May 27th. Since the track was closed on Good Friday in 2011, the 500-mile race has been moved to a Saturday, which also happens to be the final day of the season. This is to accommodate the NFL’s schedule, which does not allow for a 500-mile race on the same day that it’s played.
So, the IndyCar Grand Prix is on Sunday, April 8th, and the Indy 500 is on Saturday, May 26th. The two sprints are on successive Sundays.
How Many Seats Does It Have?
There are grandstands all along the length of the track, but they are situated in such a way that there are fewer seats available closer to the center of the track. According to Trackpedia.com, there are a total of 90,000 seats, but due to time constraints and the geometry of the track, there are only 80,000 that are actually usable. The track has four main pits (A, B, C, and D) and 12 minor pits (a-l). For some reason, the track does not have any pits along the backstretch or the start/finish line, which are the most important areas for a grandstand. Perhaps they feel that these are the parts of the track that are most vulnerable to catastrophic accidents. So, if you want to be near the front of the track, get here early or wait until the later part of the afternoon. Otherwise, you’ll have to settle for something in the back.
Where Are The Start/Finish Lines?
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway does not have any formally designated start/finish lines. However, there are three areas along the track that the cars enter/exit: the front stretch (prior to the first turn), the backstretch (after the first turn), and the straight section (before the final turn). The best place to view the race is from the top floor of the Main Building (Turn 1) and from the grandstands on the outside of the track. The combination of these two locations gives you an excellent view of the entire 1.997 mile-long surface. However, the best spot is from the top floor of the Main Building (Turn 1), as this is the highest point from which you can see the entire track.
The best part of the Main Building is the cupola observation deck. It’s located on the top floor, and from there you can look out over the entire track. There is also an awesome restaurant there, which serves an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet that’s worth checking out. However, the downside to this location is that it’s slightly less than ideal for those who want a good view of the entire track. As mentioned, the best view is from the top floor of the Main Building (Turn 1) and from the grandstands along the outside of the track.
Are There Any Lights At All?
Yes, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has lights, and they’re pretty cool. They’re located in the middle of the track beyond the start/finish line. They’re known as the Brickyard Lights, and they date back to 1927. Unfortunately, these days, the lights are only on for the IndyCar Series races and the Indianapolis 500. So, if you want to catch a glimpse of one or more racers as they come around the first turn, you’ll need to have a clear view of the track from the opposite end. Fortunately, there are always a few places along the track that you can find a good view of the turn one lights. Also, the Speedway itself is a light-up masterpiece, so it doesn’t get dark there even during the day. For those who love an amazing display of lights, the 1.997 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a perfect venue.
Now, I hope that this article has been both accurate and complete in its answers to the questions that it has addressed. If you want to learn more about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, just visit its website at indianapolismotorspeedway.com, as this will give you all the information that you need. Also, please feel free to add any additional information that you might deem pertinent.