To celebrate the 101st running of the iconic Indianapolis 500, we decided to take a look at the origins of the race and where it actually takes place. While it may seem obvious, it is interesting to note that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is actually located in two different places – one in Indiana and the other in a rural Kansas town called Speedway.
Indy: The Race Is In Indiana
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a hall of fame institution and a mecca for motor enthusiasts. If you ever wanted to attend a car race, you probably already know where to go. The track is located in Speedway, Indiana, about 70 miles from downtown Indianapolis. It is actually made up of two adjacent track/racing venues: Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway Park. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (the first five miles) opened in 1903 and holds the record for the most race starts and the highest average speed. Today, this is the home of the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400 – two of the most popular racing events held there each year. Between the two, there have been more than 4,000 races held, making it the second-most popular track after Daytona. The two-mile oval track with seating for over 100,000 people is still considered by many to be the crown jewel of American motorsport. If you go today, be sure to get there early – parking spots are hard to find and a lot of people show up early just to be able to park. If you’re driving, you can use the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s free parking lot (IndyPark)
Kansas: The Race Is In A Small Town
It’s not what you might expect, but the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is actually located in a small town outside of Kansas City. Kansas City is actually in Missouri, but the state line runs through the middle of the track – sort of like a Y-junction. The track itself is located in the Kansas towns of Speedway and Oakley – which is why it’s also known as the “Tri-County Fairgrounds.” The speedway is actually made up of two tracks: a 1.85 mile dirt oval called the Flatlanders’ Knuckleball and a 3.89 mile paved oval called the Kansas Speedway. The tracks are connected by a tunnel, allowing drivers to make a short trek from one to the other. The Flatlanders’ Knuckleball is named for the area of Kansas where it is located – the flat land of Kansas. And who doesn’t love a good ol’ fashioned horserace? On this track, you’ll find the famed Indianapolis 500 and the premier race of the NASCAR season, the Sprint Cup. Over the years, this is where the likes of Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Paul Newman have called home. Today, it is the site of the annual Henry Schade Trophy race, which honors the memory of Henry Schade, an Indianapolis Star sports writer who died in 1984. Despite the fact that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is in a small town, it remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area, receiving over a million visitors a year. (Photo by Sean Pavone/)
Why Is The IMS In Two Places?
As we mentioned above, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is actually made up of two different tracks: one near the city and one in a small town. But why is the track in two places? Well, in 1955, the track was in danger of disappearing. The city had grown up around the track and it seemed inevitable that it would be annexed by Indianapolis in the coming years. At the same time, the owners of the track had been talking to the city about building a new grandstand and pressing charges for parking. In response, a citizens’ committee was formed and took the initiative to save the track by raising funds through an annual drive called the “Grand Tour.” The committee organized bus trips for families and friends to come together and raise money for the cause. Ultimately, the city funded the construction of an entirely new stadium. The existing grandstand was moved and reoriented to fit the new configuration. The first Indy 500 was held in August of 1955 and was won by a local boy, Floyd Williamson. He drove for owner Carl Kuester and started one of the early versions of the now-famous “Da Vinci” cars. A lot of people can identify with Williamson’s story, as he grew up in a modest home in Indianapolis’ northern suburbs and became the first in his family to graduate from high school. From there, he went on to get his bachelor’s degree in industrial design and was the first in his family to attend college. Afterward, he went on to gain work experience and started his own design firm. In the late 1950s, he began developing an idea for a streamlined race car and created the first ever “streamliner,” affectionately known as the “Willie Wattster.” The original steamline was a one-of-a-kind vehicle that was featured at the Indianapolis International Airport in 1957. It was also displayed at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and at the Paris Auto Show that same year. In 1997, the streamliner was featured on the cover of the Guinness Book of World Records because it was voted the “Most Popular Automobile At Airport Landings” ever! When Williamson died in 2000, he was survived by his wife, four children, and seven grandchildren. Today, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is named in his honor and is the site of his children’s and grandchild’s celebrations of Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Where To Eat And Stay In Indy
While you’re there, you might as well visit some of the local eateries. The most popular among visitors is The Cornerstone Grille, which stands for “the food and drink service that sustains the community.” If you go there, you’ll find a variety of American fare and a full bar. Another favorite is called The Irish Pic-nic, which serves a classic American barbecue menu. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with a piece of the famous “Indianapolis Ice Cream Truck,” which has been serving up handmade ice cream to locals for over 75 years. For those who crave something a little more traditional, there is a bar called The O’Connell, which serves an outdoor screening of classic Irish movies every Saturday night. In the meantime, there are plenty of chain hotels in the area if you’re visiting during the week. But if you want to stay overnight in a more intimate setting, there are bed-and-breakfasts scattered around the city. (Photo by Sean Pavone/)