The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, located in Indiana, is one of the great American race tracks. Every year, thousands of drivers from around the world come to this uniquely atmospheric venue to compete in the Indianapolis 500, the greatest single-day sportscar race in the world. This year’s edition of the 500 is due to take place on May 23rd.
Since 1926, when the Indianapolis Speedway was established, the venue has grown to become the eighth-largest city in the United States, with a population of nearly 500,000.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s grandstands are four-tiered and have a capacity of 60,000. The pits and paddock area have a capacity of 15,000, making it the second-largest motor-racing facility in the world (after the Circuit de la Solei, in France). The speedway has a total capacity of 75,000.
The track itself consists of two distinct configurations. The first, and by far the longest, is the tri-oval. This is a 3.9km road circuit with turns into the stadium and back out again, named after the three main streets that run through the midwestern United States: Easter Avenue, Fall Street and Meridian Street. The other, significantly shorter oval is named after the Native American tribe, the Sioux, and is 2.4km long. It too ends in a lap of the stadium. These two ovals make up most of the track’s length, with an extension into the infield consisting of corners and straights. Around 600 meters of track are inside the speedway’s walls, as well as over a kilometer along the finishing straight.
The Ovals Are As Long As The Track Cards Say
While it would be great to be able to wander around the venue and get an idea of how long each bit of track is, this isn’t possible thanks to modern technology. Thanks to GPS, however, we know that the track length as it’s printed on the track cards is almost certainly not accurate. The reason is that the track cards are designed to be used inside a deck of standard playing cards, and the ovals are much longer than the cards say they are.
The Oddities Of The Indianapolis Speedway
The oddities of the Indianapolis Speedway are many and varied. One of the most interesting facts about the venue is that it is often the home of a multitude of ghosts. The team has recorded numerous strange phenomenon, such as shadowy figures, inexplicable growls and moans, footsteps, and objects being moved around just by themselves. It’s certainly an interesting place to be on the prowl for phantoms, isn’t it?
Another interesting tidbit about the Indianapolis Speedway is that it was the first venue to implement a “rain date” policy. Before this point, races were often run on the day they were scheduled to go ahead, with no postponements or rescheduling. The policy was implemented to prevent the races from being canceled or postponed due to bad weather. It was originally formulated to protect the fans, too, as the team felt they shouldn’t have to endure another dreary day of biding their time until the sun and temperatures are in a more favorable range.
The Evolution Of The Race Track
The evolution of the race track is a continuous journey, with the venue constantly changing and evolving to stay ahead of the sport’s curve. They’ve gone from dirt to asphalt, and adopted some of the trappings of modern racing, such as active safety measures and the use of electronics.
One of the major changes has been the move from the three- to four-choke system, which was used from 1926 to 1972, to the current two-choke system, which was implemented in 1974. The first system required a greater effort from the driver, as he had to pull harder on the lever in order to activate the extra airflow.
The History Of The Indianapolis 500
The history of the Indianapolis 500 is, in many ways, the story of American racing. It all started with a bang on May 30th, 1911, when Louis Schneiderman, a New York City lawyer, organized an informal meeting of several auto racing enthusiasts at the Yale Club in New York City. The gentlemen agreed to put on a race to celebrate the 400th birthday of Christopher Colombus, and the following day the Indianapolis 500 was held. The first race was, in many ways, a precursor to what we know today as NASCAR. Those early pioneers were inspired by the New York City 400 and decided to organize their own race, which was initially contested on dirt roads. It wasn’t until the 24th iteration of the race, in 1959, that the Indianapolis 500 made the switch to asphalt.
The Future Of The Indianapolis 500
The future of the Indianapolis 500 is, as ever, an uncertain one. The owners of the speedway have been trying to come up with a way to generate additional revenue streams, particularly since the introduction of electronic scoring systems in the 1990s. One of the ideas that’s been bounced around is a night race, which could potentially be a real money spinner. The problem is that it’s difficult to generate interest in a night race when the only attraction is the noise of the engines and the flickering light of the burning tires.
The Indianapolis 500 will be televised live across the United States beginning this weekend, with pre-game festivities underway at 8 p.m. ET on May 19th. The actual race will begin at 12:30 p.m. on May 20th.