All Roads Lead to Indy
Every Memorial Day thousands flock to Indianapolis to witness the greatest spectacle in automotive racing – the Indy 500. Race fever takes over the city two weeks prior to the big race as race teams and spectators return for their yearly pilgrimage. From the playing of “Back Home Again in Indiana” and the salute to the troops to the checkered flag and the presentation of the trophy, you can feel history come to life at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).
(Photo courtesy of www.img.timeinc.net)
Welcome to Indianapolis
We could reveal who our favorite is for this year’s big race or talk about some of the past legends we admire. In the end, who has the best car in the field would be an endless debate among car enthusiasts. Instead, we will give you a few interesting facts about the Indy 500 race and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway so you can entertain guests at your viewing party.
Why is It Called the Brickyard?
In 1909 Carl G. Fisher dreamed of building a test track just outside of the city but soon found it made a better race track. Fisher and company soon came up with a single race around their oval track for 500 grueling miles. He also made the unheard of decision to pave the track with 3.2 million bricks to provide a safer course on which to race. Thus, “The Brickyard” was born. Today three feet of original bricks remain at the start/finish line.
(Photo courtesy of www.ibj.com)
The Triple Crown of Motorsports
Coming to the Indy 500 is something that appears on almost every car lover’s wish list. Touted as one of the largest single day sporting events in the world, the Indy 500 is part of the triple crown of motorsports alongside the 24 hours of LeMans and the Grande Prix of Monaco. It has one of the richest purses in racing that brings out all the best drivers in the world. The 2014 winner earned a total of $2.49 million.
(Photo courtesy of www.blog.kevineikenberry.com)
Where Did We Park?
Whether fans come for the thrill of the race itself or to soak in the racing atmosphere with other car enthusiasts, the Indy 500 has something for everyone. The IMS is a huge 559-acre complex with an 18-hole golf course, museum and numerous hospitality areas. The oval track is so big that not only could you fit Indiana University’s Memorial Stadium inside, but all the football stadiums of 14 schools in the Big 10 Conference (and still have room to spare). So don’t pull a Seinfeld! Remember where you parked because this is NO place to get lost.
(Photo courtesy of www.sportsthenandnow.com)
“Glamping” is All the Rage in the Infield
For those who want to experience the Indy 500 up close (or as up close as you can get without going onto pit row) then the infield area is where the action is. Before you think you’ll be roughing it for days to get a good spot, the folks at IMS have even taken camping to a whole new level. Welcome to "glamping" where those who hate roughing it can rent a tent with a queen-sized bed and other amenities. Goodbye musty sleeping bags or rainy puddles in the pup tent.
(Photo courtesy of www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com)
Indianapolis Motor Speedway – A National Historic Landmark
For over a century Indianapolis has been home to racing’s elite every May. From the first winner in 1911 (Ray Haroun in a Marmon Wasp racer) to the 2014 Champion (Ryan Hunter-Reay), many of the sport’s top drivers have tested their skill at Indy. Names like A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr., Bobby Rahal, Rick Mears and Mario Andretti have all made their marks here. Automotive history has been made here, which is why the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was named a National Historic Landmark. It is the only such landmark associated with automotive racing in the country. Put it at the top of your bucket list!
(Logo courtesy of www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com)
Got a Win? Got Milk.
Say you’ve just driven 500 grueling miles, fender to fender with some of your toughest competitors. What would you be given to drink at the end of the race? Milk, if you are at the Indy 500! Back around 1936, a dairy executive saw a picture of an Indy 500 winner (Louis Meyer) drinking what he thought was milk (it was actually buttermilk) and he had an idea. In great “Mad Men” fashion, it was decided that the winners would from then on get their choice of whole, 2% or skim milk in a chilled specially etched bottle. All the winners since have celebrated with a milk cocktail. Meanwhile, the French just shake their heads at the crazy Americans and drink Champagne.
(Photo courtesy of www.espncdn.com)
So if you are one of the lucky 300,000 who get to be present at this year’s race or one of the millions of us at home cheering from our recliners, the Indianapolis 500 continues to be a shining star in racing. Not to mention, a Memorial Day Weekend tradition. So raise your glass of milk and salute the Indy 500 for over a century of racing history. Here’s to another 100 years.
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