For those who have only known it as the setting for various car races, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a lot more to offer than meets the eye. In fact, some may even say that the legendary track is more than just a racing venue, but a piece of American history.
Nestled in the woods just outside of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is less than an hour away from the city proper. The speedway has long been a place where motorsport fans can come together, share their passion for cars, and celebrate the American spirit. It’s no wonder that millions of people have watched (and still watch) the Indianapolis 500 over the years. That’s right, the Indianapolis 500 is held annually on Memorial Day, and it’s one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world. The world champion is crowned at the end of the year, and the top three drivers in the standings win gold, silver, and bronze medals, respectively.
The track is most often associated with motorsport, but it also has a rich history of cultural and social events, such as concerts and exhibitions. If you’re a car fan who has never been there, here’s a quick overview of how long the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track is.
The Track Is Approximately One Mile Long
The track is a mile and a half long, and it completely encircles and circles the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The one-mile straightaways are referred to as “turns”, and there are four of them on the track. The speedway also has two one-and-a-half-mile oval “corners” that start and end on the straightaways.
Fourteen Fords Took The Cake In The 1905 Race
The first recorded motorsport event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway took place ninety years ago this year, in 1905. Back then, driver Louis H. Fuchs set a new track record of 45.8 seconds, covering the one-mile stretch in 14.8 seconds. That’s right, fourteen Fords took the cake in that race, which was held on a Friday afternoon.
Though the car count was low, the Indianapolis 500 was actually the last race of the day that year, due to the hot weather. However, the track wasn’t built until the following year, so Fuchs’ record didn’t stand for long. Nevertheless, it still stands for the most Fords being recorded as “finishing” a car race in one day. Sadly, there are no official records keeping track of how many times the speedway has been the site of a fatal accident, but it’s believed that somewhere around 20 fatal crashes have taken place there. That’s about one per year, or one crash every two years. Not exactly a place where you want to have a casual spin around.
The Track Is Mostly Sidewalks, With Pavement And Some Granite Surfaces
The asphalt on the track is called the “crown jewel” of the motor speedway, due to its premium quality. This is the same type of asphalt that’s used to pave most of the city streets, as well as the airport runway. During the summertime, the track turns into a paradise for runners and bikers, who can use it as a training ground for the Indy 500. Sadly, during the wintertime, the track is closed to public traffic. When it’s covered with sand instead of asphalt, it becomes the “Texas Motor Speedway”, located in Ennis, Texas. This is the same type of surface that’s used for horse racing in the state. The temperature during the wintertime is also much drier, and that makes the dirt much easier to clean up after a race. In fact, after a very wet and muddy winter, the track completely disappears for six or seven months, and then it’s laid down with a fresh coat of asphalt after the winter racing season.
Around 30 Structures Surround The Track
Though the main track is a single-file circuit, with a mile and a half long, it’s surrounded by tons upon tons of additional structures, including grandstands, garages, and various other buildings.
Some may consider these amenities to be unnecessary, since cars don’t need that much room to speed around, but the organizers of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway always liked to have more structures to give the appearance of more activity. In addition, the garages and the buildings provide hospitality spaces, which are always popular with drivers and their crew members, as well as with sponsors and media members. Unfortunately, in the past, organizers have also turned the track into a free entertainment venue during the summertime, which has caused several conflicts with the families of the deceased. The track had originally constructed a visitors’ center in the 1970s, but it was closed in 2015 and is now used for storage.
The Track Is Named After The Man Who Founded The Speedway
Though the track is frequently referred to as the “Indianapolis Motor Speedway”, the official name of the venue is the “Hoosier Hundred”. If you take a closer look, you’ll see that the first hundred yards of the track are actually named for the state of Indiana. The remaining one-mile of the track is named for Arthur “Hoosier” Moffitt. In 1884, Moffitt became the first person to legally own a track, and he used the money he made to fund the construction of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is the same man who once said, “My ambition is not only to build the greatest sports venue in the world, but to give the race fans a place they can call their own.” Today, nearly a hundred years later, Arthur Moffitt’s dream has turned into reality.
Less Than A 10-Minute Walk From The Center Of Indianapolis
With the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track so close to the city, it’s no wonder that thousands of people visit the venue every year, looking for a quick walk or a slow drive around the track. The closest bus stop from the main entrance is located on the edge of the property, and it only takes 10 to 15 minutes for the bus to whisk you directly to the center of Indianapolis. This is the same bus line that takes visitors to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from the Indianapolis International Airport.
It Was Built To Host The Indy 500
Though the Indy 500 is one of the more prestigious events that take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it was actually built to host other types of car races, including the American Grand Prix, the World Championship Car Race, and others. In the future, the speedway plans on expanding the track, so that it can host even more races, and perhaps even an IndyCar Series race, though that may depend on various factors, like the number of interested parties and available funding.
There Are Numerous Ways To Experience The Indy 500
If you’d like to experience one of NASCAR’s most historic events, there are numerous options. You can attend one of the three “indy weeks”, which are held in April, June, and October at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Each “indy week” is actually three separate races, held on different days, with an hour or two break in between. If you want to see the cars up close, as they roar around the track, you can take a ride in a “popup cam”, which is similar to a jumbo jet’s overhead bin. There are also various speedway tours, which you can take, either on foot or by bus. You can also go a single lap around the track, though there is no charge for that. This is also the place where you can catch the Indiana Pacers play the National Basketball Association. Though it’s not an official game, and it certainly isn’t part of the official schedule, a couple of the “pacers”, most notably Reggie Miller, have made numerous appearances at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, either to watch or to tape the games. The Indy 500 will also be broadcast on a multitude of television channels, including ABC, NBC, and CBS. In addition, Radio Disney will have a twenty-five-station broadcast network, which will cover every aspect of the 500, from pre-race coverage, to in-race interviews, to post-race analysis.