07.17.2011 - 07.17.2011
This was my second trip to Indianapolis for business. On the first trip, I never left downtown. So this time, I decided to fly in a little early on Sunday afternoon and visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
I grew up going to drag races with my dad and then later in life, to tractor pulls and car shows with my ex-husband so I'm no stranger to the car scene. Even as a little girl, Shirley Muldowney (the first female licensed by the NHRA) was one of my heroes. Despite all of that, I could really care less about the roundy-rounds (as my dad calls them). But visiting the Indy Speedway seems to be the thing to do while in Indianapolis and I have to say, it's a pretty interesting tour. It's also a monumental year for the track because it's the 100th year of the first Indianapolis 500.
The tour starts with everyone piling on a bus to make a full lap around the track. Of course, the speed of the bus is just "slightly" below the 160 mph average speed of the last Indy winner. The first stop was the finish line.
Just across the finish line is a row of bricks that make up what's left of the infamous brickyard. The original track consisted of 3.2 million paving bricks. Most of these bricks are still there today but are underneath the asphalt. This remaining row of bricks is traditionally kissed by each of the race winners.
Also at the finish line on the inside of the track is the winners' circle.
After the lap around the track, we made our way to the official press room.
Next door, the current Pagoda building has nine tiers and houses the media room, broadcast booths, and timing and scoring centers. The view from the Pagoda is directly across the finish line. Each race car is represented by a person in the Pagoda and as the racers change position on the track, these persons also change seating positions in the Pagoda. It's a bit like a game of musical chairs.
The final portion of the grounds tour was a drive through the Gasoline Alley garage area. Most of the more famous racers have permanent garages at the track.
After the tour, I had a few minutes to spend walking through the museum. The main part of the museum showcases the Borgwarner Trophy and the winning race cars from a majority of the Indy 500 races.
The car below was the winning car in 1947, the year my mother was born.
The winning cars in the years Mike and I were born (1970 and 1974) are not in the museum for some reason so below are the winning cars in 1969 and 1973 instead.
Hanging on the museum wall is this quilt which contains a patch for every Indy 500 winner along with the year of the win and the driver's signature.
This is where the tour ends as the museum was closing so I made my way to the gift shop to pick up a few souvenirs for those who care a bit more about the roundy-rounds than I do but who unfortunately couldn't be there to enjoy the tour.