24 Jul The Racing Capital of the World – The History of Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The weekend NASCAR drivers are travelling to Speedway, Indiana to race at the highest capacity stadium facility in the world; the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). This massive speedway has the capability to seat more than 400,000 people! Reaching a distance of two and a half miles long, IMS is so large that Churchill Downs, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Roman Colosseum and Vatican City could all fit inside the oval, which covers 253 acres! Before Sunday’s Brickyard 400 race, let’s take a look back at this speedway’s interesting history, traditions and records.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built in 1909 and was the first racetrack to be titled a speedway, making it the original speedway. Since August 19, 1909, 248 automobile races have taken place at IMS, including the Indianapolis 500 and one of NASCAR’s most popular races, the Brickyard 400. The Brickyard 400’s first race brought in more than 250,000 spectators, the largest crowd to date to witness a NASCAR event!
You have probably heard of the Brickyard 400, but do you know where this race’s name comes from? The term “brickyard” refers to the 3.2 million bricks that were used to pave the Indianapolis Motor Speedway back in 1909. By 1961 the entire track was paved with asphalt with the exception of a one-yard strip of brick that remains at the track’s start- finish line. This section of bricks is widely known today as the Yard of Bricks.
NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett began a Brickyard tradition that would soon catch on in the racing world. After winning the Brickyard 400 race in 1996, Jarrett and his crew chief Todd Parrott walked over to the start-finish line, knelt down and kissed the Yard of Bricks. This started a tradition that has carried on with NASCAR drivers ever since.
After winning the Brickyard 400’s first race on August 6, 1994, rookie NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon went on to prove that his Brickyard victory was not just beginner’s luck. Gordon holds the track’s record for the most victories (four), most top five finishes (10) and most top 10 finishes (13).
Indianapolis isn’t called the racing capital of the world for nothing! The speedway got national recognition for its historical significance in 1975 when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and was also designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1987. It remains the only landmark to be affiliated with automotive racing. Now that you know more about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Brickyard 400, you can get ready for some high speed action at this weekend’s race and help us cheer on 5-hour ENERGY®’s own Clint Bowyer!