There is a question that many people have when they hear the name Speedway: “Is it near Fort Wayne?” The short answer is yes but for the sake of this article, let’s delve a little bit deeper.
Located in Southeastern Indiana about an hour drive northeast of Fort Wayne, Indy is one of the country’s fastest-growing cities. In 2018, the population reached a record-breaking 417,200 people, and the metropolitan area has more than 800,000 residents.
To put that into perspective, the Fort Wayne metro area alone has a population of around 374,000 people and is the 11th-largest metropolitan area in the country. That makes Indy a much more significant city in terms of its impact on the local economy and community.
The Birthplace Of Racing
Indy is widely considered to be the birthplace of professional American motorsport. The Indianapolis 500, the world’s greatest single-day motorsport event, is named after the city and pays homage to its origins. In 1911, the first Indianapolis 500 was held and more recently the event has been a regular fixture on the racing calendar. The Indy 500 is the most recognizable race in the country, attracting thousands of racing fans each year.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the venue for the race, is also located in the city and is the largest automobile racing facility in the world. It is best known for hosting the annual Indianapolis 500 and also hosts the U.S. Auto Racing Hall of Fame. It was originally built in 1909 and today still hosts many high-profile motorsport events. The track is managed by International Speedway Corporation, a company that also runs the iconic and much-loved Daytona International Speedway in Florida.
One of the city’s main attractions is Lucas Oil Stadium, home to the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. The 50,000-seat stadium is also used for college football, with the game being shown on national television. It is named after former Colts owner and team principal Johnny “Red” Lucas and features many of his personal touches, such as his name and the team’s former logo.
For decades, little children around the world watched in awe as a host of famous faces competed in the Indianapolis 500, with some even dreaming of becoming the next great American racecar driver. Thanks to the advancements in technology, their dreams have become a reality with drivers from all over the world competing each year. In fact, the Indy 500 is so popular that it even holds an annual fan convention, aptly named Speedweeks, in mid-May (just after the race). Thousands of racing fans from all over the world descend on Indy each year, creating an air of excitement not even the actual race could generate.
Why Does It Matter Where The Race Is Held?
From a pure sports perspective, it doesn’t matter that much where a sporting event is held. The bigger issue is that the Indianapolis metropolitan area is missing out on significant economic development because of its exclusion from hosting large sporting events, particularly those related to motorsport.
As a part of the NCCAR, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital will host the INDY CAR Grand Prix, a one-of-a-kind pediatric medical marathon, as well as the Toyota Grand Prix of Indianapolis. This will bring more than 170,000 people to the city for the two-day event in July 2021. That’s nearly 10% of the metro area’s population and it’s certainly a lot of excitement for a city that has recently seen its population surge above 400,000 people.
These are just a few of the major sporting events that are coming to the city in the next few years. The venues for these championships will be some of the most prestigious in the country. The opportunity for the city to showcase its considerable sports infrastructure to these organizations is significant. The issue, however, is that the city isn’t being given the opportunity to show off its best side because of the Indianapolis 500’s status as the nation’s premier event. Even worse, many of these sports franchises pay only lip service to the issue and seem more than willing to take advantage of the situation.
What About The 500?
Now, let’s get to the issue at hand: Is the Indianapolis 500 near Fort Wayne?
While many of the city’s attractions and infrastructure have been built with the city’s burgeoning popularity in mind, the organizers behind the Indy 500 don’t always see eye to eye with local officials. That’s mainly because the event is contested on a Sunday, which is typically reserved for churchgoing in Indiana. As a result, the racing is held at night and most Hoosiers don’t approve of Sunday night noise pollution. What’s more, many Indianapolis residents are a part of a group known as the “Single Moms Club,” whose members meet up regularly to discuss issues related to motherhood, and the organizers don’t want to anger them by holding a noisy, pollution-spewing motorsport event on a Sunday night. (Yes, the organizers are that concerned about the image of the race in regards to the churchgoing crowd and the single moms club.)
Accordingly, the organizers have made a habit of alternating the weekend on which the Indy 500 is held. In recent years, it’s been held on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, which has helped the event gain some traction with the city’s residents. Still, many people around here (and others in the U.S.) continue to ask Is the 500 near Fort Wayne? So, let’s find out together.
Checking Out The Data
Fortunately, these days a good majority of the population has access to the internet and the ability to find the information they need. As a result, we can perform a quick Google search to determine whether or not the Indy 500 is near Fort Wayne.
Nowadays, most venues will have an online presence that provides additional information about the event, including whether or not it’s near Fort Wayne. For instance, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway boasts that it’s located “just a few minutes away” from the city limits of Fort Wayne. (Yes, that’s how they present it.) Similarly, the Indianapolis Colts have a website that provides detailed information about the team as well as the upcoming schedule, including the Indianapolis 500. (No, they don’t specifically say it’s held in Indianapolis, but it is. They also don’t need to – the address is enough for anyone.)
There are a handful of venues that don’t have an online presence, so in order to verify the proximity of the event to Fort Wayne, we’ll need to resort to other methods. One way is to check the local directories for the area. Another is to use an interactive map, like Google Maps, to pinpoint the location of the event.
Using the local directories, we can find out which hotel chains are available in the area, as well as the best restaurants and bars. After all, people often use these guides to explore a new city and figure out where to stay and what to eat. (This is also where you can find information about the local golf courses and other attractions. It’s a pretty comprehensive guide in terms of what’s available in the area.)
Checking Elkhart Lake, we can see that there are a number of chain hotels, from luxury to budget, as well as a variety of restaurants, including some fast-food chains. (As you’ll see in a bit, there are also some pretty popular dive bars in this area. So, if you’re into that sort of thing, you could definitely find a match.)
Another way to find out whether or not the Indy 500 is near Fort Wayne is to use an interactive map. (Yes, those things still exist and they work really well for finding locations and figuring out directions.)
To do this, simply enter the website of the event in your web browser and click the “View Larger Map” button.
This will take you to a larger map, where you can mark your location on the grid and see what’s available in terms of nearby attractions, restaurants, and hotels. (For the sake of this article, let’s assume the map is located at https://map.google.com/.)
Now, if you click on the little orange pin, it will take you to a more detailed map of the area, including directions to the hotel and landmarks near your location. (Yes, those things still exist and they work really well for finding locations and figuring out directions.)
Finding Out On Our Own
Ultimately, we can’t rely on the internet to provide us with all the answers – sometimes we need to search for the information ourselves. (Especially when it comes to traveling, which is one reason why online directories and electronic guides exist in the first place.)