Friday, November 20, 2015

Speedway, IN (10/23)

Funny, I thought the Indianapolis 500 was a race held in Indianapolis.  Who knew that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is actually located in a small suburban town named Speedway?  I learned that the town of Speedway, surrounded by Indianapolis. was laid out in 1912 by the four men who founded the racetrack.  Only about five square miles in size, the "city" of Speedway has a population of 12,000.  Every May, however, the population swells to nearly 400,000 people for the running of the "500".  NASCAR's Brickyard 400 is another annual event.  A road course was added, which hosted the United States Grand Prix for several years.  Motorcycle races have also been held here.

Main Gate
 The entrance to visit the track and museum is an underpass that goes below the grandstand (and track) located directly on a major thoroughfare.
Museum and Tour Entrance

I visited the Hall of Fame and took a bus ride around the racetrack.  More complete tours are offered, including a lap in a race car at nearly 200 mph.
Museum and Hall of Fame

The starting point for the bus tour was near a memorial honoring Louis Chevrolet, a race car driver and founder of Chevrolet Motor Company.
Chevrolet Memorial

This is one of the smaller grandstand sections that collectively seat more than 250,000 spectators behind a safety fence.  Others buy admission  to the racetrack infield, either to the family area (no alcohol allowed) or to the party area (known as the Snake Pit).  Grassy hills are available for seating with good views of the track.
Grandstand section

Originally paved with bricks, the track has a more modern asphalt surface now, but a small strip of bricks has been retained at the Start/Finish Line for the sake of posterity.
Start/Finish Line

The tower known as the Pagoda houses press box, timing equipment and overall race control facilities.  The viewing area is a special place for invited guests only, no tickets are sold for it.
The fastest recorded lap was set in 1996 during practice, so the record speed of more than 239 mph is not official.
Lap Record Holder

 The Hall of Fame showcases many vintage racing cars and a few motorcycles.

Richard Petty's Car

NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon has a special place in the Hall of Fame, commemorating his five wins at the Brickyard 400 race.  I learned that Jeff's family moved from California to Indiana when he was eight years old.  He was already driving race cars and had won 35 midget races by then.  The move allowed him to participate in more races, winning all 51 races the year he was eleven, and gaining experience that helped him become one of NASCAR's most successful drivers.
Jeff Gordon Commemorative

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