Nine winners of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Road Race
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is situated in Speedway, a suburb of Indianapolis. This purpose-built racing circuit opened in 1909 and from 1911 has held the Indianapolis 500 Mile Road Race, the world’s longest continuously-held motor race, with breaks only for two world wars.
The first surface to be laid was asphalt, but when this broke up, it was replaced by 3.2 million bricks, hence the nickname for the circuit being “The Brickyard”. A yard of bricks has been left at the startline to commemorate this. The circuit is 2.5 miles long, has 9 degree banked turns and with a crowd of 400,000 people, it is the highest-capacity sporting venue in the world.
A pace car has always been used to start the races. In 1911, this was a locally-built Stoddard-Dayton and the race was won by another local make of car, a Marmon Wasp, driven by Ray Harroun. In 1912, the grid was restricted to 33 cars, which is where it remains today.
Over the decades that have followed, the Indy 500 has become an American Institution, with drivers such as A.J.Foyt, Al Unser Sr., Rick Mears and Helio Castroneves becoming legends in the field of American motor sport. Up until the mid-1960’s most cars had engines at the front, but with Scotsman Jim Clark’s rear-engined Lotus 38 winning the race in 1965, the last front-engined car to appear was in 1968. Advances in aerodynamic technology mean cars can now exceed 230 mph on the straightaways.
The Indy 500 is held over Memorial Day weekend in May each year and is part of the Indy Car Series of races that are held annually in North America.
From 1945, the Hulman family have owned the speedway circuit and Tony Hulman was instrumental in founding the Hall of Fame Museum that is situated there. This world-class museum is a tribute to him and a “must-see” on any visit to Indianapolis. And for all motorsport fans, a trip to the Indy 500 should surely be on your “bucket list”!