Eldora Speedway is a motorcycle racing track located in the U.S. state of Indiana. The 1.9-mile long oval is one of the historic places of racing in America. Constructed in 1922, it is often referred to as the “Friendly Race Track” due to the fact that it is usually home to some of the most competitive races in the country.
The track is owned and operated by Speedway Motorsports, Inc., who purchased it back in 1989 for a sum of $16 million. Over the years, the speedway has hosted such prestigious events as the Indianapolis 500, the World Championship, and the Fuzzy Gold Cup. It is currently used as a part of the INDYCAR racing circuit.
The track is not open to the public. However, anyone can join the Friends of Eldora Speedway group and receive a special invitation to attend the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, which is part of the IndyCar Series.
The Track’s Design
Built initially as a horse racing track, Eldora Speedway was designed by Scottish-American architect Andrew McQuade. One of its unique aspects is the absence of straightaways. The long straightaways that are found on most other American race tracks were replaced by a maze of curves.
The track’s design was inspired by the Indianapolis Speedway, where the first Indy 500 was held in 1911. McQuade had visited the Speedway as a young man and was deeply affected by what he saw.
The curves were designed to make it slightly harder for the drivers to pass each other. As a result, the racing surface has a very unique look. The banking is very steep, causing the cars to slow down significantly, which in turn makes the drivers work harder.
The Track’s History
The origins of Eldora Speedway actually go back even further than 1922. In 1896, an amusement park named the White Water Park was constructed on the site of the current speedway. A decade later, an electric railway was built that connected the park with other amusement venues in the area. This gave people the opportunity to travel to different parts of the park and enjoy the attractions, which included a roller coaster, zoo, and aquarium. The railway was closed in 1947, and the White Water Park was demolished in the 1960s.
The speedway remained in this state until it was purchased by the Grand Prix Corporation in 1968. They had plans to build a speedway in Georgia, but the project was shelved after the government refused to grant them an operating license due to safety concerns.
The Grand Prix Corporation put in place a number of changes intended to enhance the racing experience. One of those was the removal of the football stands and construction of a roof over the grandstands. The roof was later extended to cover the entire backstretch.
In 1974, a second set of grandstands was built along with additional paddocks. Shortly after that, a restaurant was added to one of the turn corners. The track was altered again in 1981 when it was widened by 50 feet (15.24m). One of the most significant changes was the addition of a short chute between the turns 11 and 12 to replace the old backstretch.
The Track’s Attractions
Besides the unique track design and historic place in motorsport, Eldora Speedway is also home to some amazing attractions. The most popular of these is the “Nutshell”, a giant nut that stands more than ten feet (3m) tall and weighs in at a scary 6.7 tons (7.2 tons)!
The track also features a museum called the Speedway Motorsports Museum. It houses over 150 motorcycles and over 30 drivers’ uniforms from over 50 different era of racing.
In addition, the historic track is home to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Museum. The museum is one of the largest sports car museums in the world and has over 130 vehicles on display. Among the cars on display are several that made their mark on automotive history, including the first-ever Porsche and the De Tomaso Vallelopeza. The museum is open daily except on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The Track’s Activities
The schedule at Eldora Speedway is as busy as it is varied. The track hosts numerous attractions, some of which are only open during certain parts of the year. That being said, there are always a number of events going on at any given time.
In addition to the major racing events, the track is also home to some wonderful historical displays. One of the highlights is the “Night of Champions”, an annual event that pays tribute to all the greats who have ever raced there. Another is the “Duel in the Desert”, a classic car show that brings many old cars from back in the day. The show also features the chance to see racing legends in person.
Eldora Speedway has certainly had its ups and downs over the years, but one thing is for sure – it has never been closed. The track is open 365 days a year and hosts some of the most exciting motorsport events around.