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Indianapolis Motor Speedway - road course.png
Formula One Grand Prix layout
Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Speedway.png
Map of the basic NASCAR speedway
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Location 4790 West 16th Street
Speedway, Indiana 46222
Active from August 12, 1909 - present
Major events IRL IZOD IndyCar Series
Indianapolis 500-Mile Race

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Brickyard 400

Surface Asphalt and Brick
Length 2.500 mi (4.023 km)
Turns 4
Lap record 0:00:37.895; 237.498 mph (Arie Luyendyk, Treadway Racing, 1996, IRL IndyCar Series)

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, located in Speedway, Indiana (an enclave suburb of Indianapolis) in the United States, is the home of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and the Brickyard 400.<ref name="nrhpinv3">Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}} and Accompanying two photos from 1985</ref>

It has existed since 1909, and is the original Speedway, the first racing facility historically to incorporate the word. With a permanent seating capacity for more than 257,000 people<ref name="seating"/> and infield seating that raises capacity to approximately 400,000, it is the largest and highest-capacity sporting facility in the world.<ref>List of stadiums with 100,000 plus capacity</ref>

Considered relatively flat by American standards but high-banked by Europeans, the Motor Speedway is a two and a half mile, nearly rectangular oval with dimensions that have remained essentially unchanged since its inception: four 1/4 mile turns, two 5/8 mile long straightaways between the fourth and first and second and third turns, and two 1/8 mile short straightaways, termed "short chutes," between the first and second, and third and fourth turns.

A modern infield road course was constructed between 1998 and 2000, incorporating the western and southern portions of the oval (including the southwest turn) to create a 2.605-mile (4.192 km) track. In 2008, the road course was modified to replace the southwest turn with an additional infield section, for motorcycle use, resulting in a 2.621-mile (4.218 km) course. Altogether, the current grounds have expanded from an original 320 acres (1.3 km2) on which the Speedway was first built to cover over an area of over 559. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987, it currently remains the only such landmark to be affiliated with automotive racing history since its inception.

In addition to the Indianapolis 500, the Speedway also hosts NASCAR's Brickyard 400. The Speedway also hosted the United States Grand Prix for Formula One from 2000 to 2007. The inaugural race drew an estimated 225,000, which set a Formula One attendance record. In 2008, the Speedway added the Indianapolis motorcycle Grand Prix, a Grand Prix motorcycle racing event.

From August 19, 1909 through May 24, 2009, 244 automobile races took place, with 136 separate drivers winning. After winning his fifth United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2006, Formula One driver Michael Schumacher holds the record for most victories between the three major events (Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and the F1 USGP), with all taking place on the Forumula One version of the road course. A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears each won the Indianapolis 500 four times on the traditional oval, and Jeff Gordon has also won four times on the oval in the Brickyard 400. No driver to date has won any combination of the three major events, with only one driver (Juan Pablo Montoya) having competed in all three, winning the Indy 500, finishing fourth in the US Grand Prix, and placing second in the Brickyard 400. Johnny Aitken holds the record for total wins at the track, with 15 victories (all on the oval), during the 1909, 1910 and 1916 seasons.<ref name="scott">Scott, D. Bruce; INDY: Racing Before the 500; Indiana Reflections; 2005; ISBN 0-9766149-0-1.</ref>

On the grounds of the Speedway is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, which opened in 1956, and the Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort, which originally opened as the Speedway Golf Course in 1929. The Speedway was also the venue of the opening ceremonies for the 1987 Pan American Games.


Template:See also

Early history

The first motorsports event at the track consisted of 7 motorcycle races, sanctioned by the Federation of American Motorcyclists (FAM), on August 14, 1909.<ref name="scott"/> This was originally planned as a two-day, 15-race program, but ended before the first day was completed, due to concerns over suitability of the track surface for motorcycle use.

The first weekend of automobile races took place August 19–21, 1909, and consisted of 16 races sanctioned by the American Automobile Association (AAA).<ref name="scott"/> The celebration quickly turned into a near-disaster, due to the surface of crushed stone and tar. There were several accidents, resulting in five fatalities, and the final race of the weekend was halted after 235 miles (378 km) of its originally-scheduled 300.

Following an initiative by automotive parts and highway pioneer Carl G. Fisher, an Indiana native who was both a former race car driver and one of the principal investors in the track, the safety concerns for race drivers and spectators eventually led to a substantial additional expenditure to pave the track surface with 3.2 million paving bricks, thus giving the track its popular nickname "The Brickyard." Today, 3 feet (0.91 m) of original bricks remain at the start/finish line, still giving meaning to the 'brick yard'. The final brick added to the roadway was made of gold and laid in a special ceremony by Governor Thomas R. Marshall in 1909.

The Speedway reopened in 1910, with a total of 66 automobile races held during three holiday weekends (Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day).<ref name="scott"/> Each weekend featured two or three races of 100-mile (160 km) to 200-mile (320 km) distance, with several shorter contests. None of the short races served as a qualifying race, or "heat" race, for the longer events. Each race stood on its own and earned its own trophy. All races were sanctioned by the AAA (as were the Indianapolis 500 races up through 1955). A change in marketing focus led to only one race per year, beginning in 1911.

Attracting an estimated 80,000 spectators to the first 500 mile (804.672 km) race on Memorial Day May 30, 1911, at $1 admission, the Speedway hosted the first in a long line of 500-mile (804.672 km) races, now known as the Indianapolis 500. Ray Harroun won at the brisk average speed of 74.602 mph (120.060 km/h). "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" was born.

1912–1929: The Golden Age

A classic race followed in 1912 when Ralph DePalma lost a five lap lead with five laps to go when his car broke down. As his car was being pushed around the circuit, Joe Dawson made up the deficit to win the race. Three of the next four winners were Europeans, with DePalma being the exception as an American national, though originally Italian born. These races gave Indy a worldwide reputation and international drivers began to enter.

The 1916 race was shortened to 120 laps for 300 miles (480 km). This was for multiple reasons including a lack of entries from Europe (there were so few entries that the Speedway itself entered several cars), a lack of oil, and out of respect for the war in Europe.

On September 9, 1916, the Speedway hosted a day of short racing events termed the Harvest Classic, composed of three races held at 20, 50 and 100-mile (160 km) distances.<ref>Dill, Mark; "A Forgotten Classic;" 2006 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Official Program; Indianapolis Motor Speedway; 2006.</ref><ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref><ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> Johnny Aitken, in a Peugeot, in the end triumphed in all three events, his final victories at the facility. The Harvest Classic contests were the last races other than the Indianapolis 500 to be held on the grounds for seventy-eight years.

Racing was interrupted in 1917–1918 by World War I, when the facility served as a military hub for repairs.

When racing resumed, speeds quickly increased. In 1925 Peter DePaolo became the first to average 100 mph (160 km/h) for the race.

1930s: The Junkyard Formula

With the Great Depression hitting the nation, the purse dropped from a winners share of $50,000 and a total of $98,250 in 1930 to $18,000 and $54,450 respectively. It's a common misconception that the rules were "dumbed down" to what was called the "junkyard formula" to allow more entries during the depression. The rules were indeed changed, but it was due to an effort by the Speedway to get more car manufacturers involved in the race by discouraging the entry of specialized racing machines which dominated the 500 during the mid- to late-'20s. The rule changes in fact were already being laid out before the market crash. A record of 42 cars started the 1933 500. With one exception between 1934 until 1979, 33 drivers started the 500; 1947 saw 30 cars start due to a strike by certain teams affiliated with the ASPAR drivers, owners and sponsors association.

By the early 1930s, however, the increasing speeds began to make the track increasingly dangerous, and in the period 1931–1935 there were 15 fatalities. This forced another repavement, with tarmac replacing the bricks in parts of the track. In addition, during the '35–'36 seasons the inside wall was removed in the corners, the angle of the outside wall in relation to the track was changed to keep cars from launching over, hard crash helmets became mandatory, and the first yellow light system was devised around the track. The danger of the track during this period, however, didn't stop Louis Meyer or Wilbur Shaw from becoming the first two three-time winners, with Shaw also being the first back-to-back winner in 1939 and 1940.

1940s: Start of the Hulman Era

The IMS wing and wheel logo has been used since 1909. Currently shelved for the Centennial Era celebration, it will make its return in 2012.

At the beginning of the 1940s, the track required further improvement. In 1941, half of "Gasoline Alley," the garage area, burned down before the race. With US involvement in World War II, the 1942 500-Mile race was cancelled in December, 1941. Late in 1942, a ban on all auto racing led to the canceling of the 500-Mile Race for the rest of the war for a total of four years (1942–1945). The track was more or less abandoned during the war and was in bad shape.

Many of the locals conceded that the Speedway would be sold after the war and become a housing development. With the end of the war in sight, on November 29, 1944, three-time 500 winner Wilbur Shaw came back to do a 500-mile (800 km) tire test approved by the government for Firestone. Shaw was shocked at the state of the Speedway and contacted owner Eddie Rickenbacker, only to discover that it was for sale. Shaw then sent out letters to the automobile industry to try to find a buyer. All the responses indicated that the Speedway would be turned into a private facility for the buyer. Shaw then looked around for someone to buy the Speedway, who would reopen the racetrack as a public venue. He found Terre Haute, Indiana businessman Tony Hulman. Meetings were set up and the Speedway was purchased on November 14, 1945. Though not officially acknowledged, the purchase price for the Speedway was reported by the Indianapolis Star and News to be $750,000. Major renovations and repairs were made at a quick pace to the frail Speedway, in time for the 1946 race. Since then the Speedway has continued to grow. Stands have been built and remodeled many times over, suites and museums were added, and many other additions helped bring back Indy's reputation as a great track.

1950s: The Fabulous Roadsters

Several successful drivers helped increase the reputation of The Brickyard as well, including three-time winner Mauri Rose and 1953–54 winner Bill Vukovich.

In the 1950s, cars were topping out at 150 mph (240 km/h), helping to draw more and more fans. The low-slung, sleek cars were known as roadsters and the Kurtis, Kuzma, and Watson chassis dominated the field. Nearly all were powered by the Offenhauser engines. The crowd favorite Novi, with its unique sound and look, was the most powerful car of the decade that dominated time trials. However, they would never make the full 500-mile (800 km) in first place, often breaking down before the end or having to make too many pit stops because of the massive engine's thirst for fuel and the weight that went with the extra fuel.

The track’s reputation improved so much the 500-Mile Race became part of the Formula One World Championship for 11 years (1950–1960), even though none of the Indy drivers raced in Formula One and only Ferrari's Alberto Ascari of the F1 drivers at the time raced in the 500. Five time World Champion Juan Fangio practiced at the Speedway in 1958, but ultimately decided against it.

The 1950s were also the most dangerous era of American racing. Of the 33 drivers to qualify for the 1953 race, nearly half, 16, were to eventually die in racing accidents.

1960s: Rear Engine Revolution

In October 1961, the final remaining brick sections of the track were paved over with asphalt, with the exception of a distinct three-foot-wide line of bricks at the start/finish line. The "Brickyard" thus became known for its "Yard of Bricks".

Ironically, a wave of F1 drivers went to the Speedway in the 1960s, and the mid-engine revolution that was started in F1 by the Cooper team changed the face of the 500 as well; since Jim Clark's win in 1965, every winner has driven a rear-engined car. Graham Hill won the following year in his first attempt, eventually to become the only driver to date to achieve auto racing's "Triple Crown of Motorsport" of winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500, and Le Mans 24 Hours. There were enough Americans to compete with them, with A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, and Bobby and Al Unser leading the charge in the 1960s and 1970s, of whom Foyt and Al Unser would eventually become, respectively, the first two of three drivers, to date, to win four times each.

From 1970 to 1981, Indianapolis had a twin in the city of Ontario, California by the name of the Ontario Motor Speedway, this track was known as the "Indianapolis of the West" and the home of the California 500; but was a financial failure due to bad management and not holding enough races on the racetrack.

The 1980s brought a new generation of speedsters, led by four-time race winner Rick Mears who also broke the 220 mph (355 km/h) speed mark in qualifying (1989) and won six pole positions. Other stars of the decade included Danny Sullivan, Bobby Rahal, and F1 veteran Emerson Fittipaldi. The 1989 race came down to a final ten-lap, thrilling duel between Fittipaldi and Al Unser, Jr., culminating in Unser crashing in the third turn of the 199th lap after making contact with Fittpaldi's right front tire.

The early 1990s witnessed Arie Luyendyk winning in the fastest 500 to date, with an average speed 185.981 mph (299.307 km/h). Mears becoming the third four-time winner after a late-race duel with Michael Andretti in 1991, and Al Unser, Jr. finally securing victory by defeating last-place-starting driver Scott Goodyear by 0.043 of a second in 1992, the closest finish in race history to date.

The 500 got a new look in 1996 when it became an Indy Racing League event, formed as a rival to CART.

2000s: Unification

The early 2000s saw drivers from the rival Champ Car series begin to cross over to compete at the Indianapolis 500, beginning with the 2000 Indianapolis 500, in which Chip Ganassi Racing and Juan Pablo Montoya won by a large margin. Montoya became the seventh rookie to win the Indianapolis 500.

Team Penske made its return to the Indianapolis 500 after a five year absence by capturing its 11th Indianapolis 500 victory with Hélio Castroneves behind the wheel in the 2001 Indianapolis 500. Hélio Castroneves became the eighth rookie to win the Indianapolis 500. Penske would follow this with victories the next two years. Team Penske and other prominent Champ Car teams, such as Chip Ganassi Racing, Andretti Green Racing, and Rahal Letterman Racing, would switch from Champ Car to the Indy Racing League shortly thereafter.

Buddy Rice became the first American driver since 1998 to win the race in the rain-shortened 2004 Indianapolis 500. At the time, Rice drove for the team co-owned by 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and the Indiana native television talk show host and comedian David Letterman.

In 2005, Danica Patrick became the first female driver to lead the race at Indianapolis, first when acquiring it for a lap near the 125-mile (201 km) mark while cycling through pit stops, and late in the race when she stayed out one lap longer than her rivals during a set of green-flag pit stops. Dan Wheldon would go on to win the 2005 Indianapolis 500

Sam Hornish Jr. became the first driver to ever overtake for the lead on the race's final lap, ultimately winning the 2006 Indianapolis 500 in the last 450 feet (140 m) by a 0.0635-second margin over rookie Marco Andretti.

Dario Franchitti became the first native of Scotland since Jim Clark's victory in 1965, to win the rain-shortened 2007 Indianapolis 500.

In mid February, 2008, Champ Car filed for bankruptcy. In late February, an agreement was reached for Champ Car to be merged with the IRL, and the first IRL IndyCar Series season since the unification took place in 2008. Scott Dixon, driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, became the first native of New Zealand to win the 2008 Indianapolis 500.

In the 100th anniversary year of the construction of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Hélio Castroneves became the sixth three-time winner of the 500 Mile Race in the 2009 Indianapolis 500. Danica Patrick also had her best finish ever (third place) in the race. This was also the best finish ever by a woman in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

NASCAR and IROC at Indy

Template:See also

From 1919 to 1993, the 500 was the only race run at the Brickyard. However, when Tony George (Hulman's grandson) inherited the track, he brought more racing to the Speedway, with NASCAR in 1994 (the Brickyard 400, known from 2005 to 2009 as the Allstate 400 at The Brickyard), and an International Race of Champions (IROC) event in 1998. (The last IROC at Indy race was held in 2003.)

The Brickyard 400 currently has no official support races. From 1998–2003, an IROC event was held as a support race. Since 1982, nearby Indianapolis Raceway Park has held a NASCAR Nationwide Series event which, since the Brickyard 400 in 1994, has been held the night prior to the IMS event. Since 1995, a Camping World Truck Series race has also been held at IRP. Since 2001, qualifying for the Brickyard 400 has been held on Saturday afternoon, with the Nationwide series race run Saturday night.

In 2003, the Firestone Indy Lights Series, a minor league series to the IndyCar Series, made history with the first May race at the track since 1910, other than the 500. The Freedom 100, first held during the final qualifying weekend, has been moved to Carburetion Day on the Friday before the 500.

In 2005, the Firestone Indy Lights Series became the first racing series since 1916 to run at the famous race course twice in one year. The first event being the Freedom 100, held on the oval track as part of the Indianapolis 500 weekend, with the second event, the Liberty Challenge during the United States Grand Prix weekend, competing on the Grand Prix road course. (The last Liberty Challenge race was held in 2007.)

Formula One and road course racing

In 1998, Tony George arranged for Formula One to return to the US for the first time since 1991. Two years of renovation and new construction for an Indy-based road course led to the first United States Grand Prix there in 2000, a race which was a great success. The 2001 event's success (185,000 fans were reported in attendance) was even more important with the race, then originally held in September, being the largest international sporting event held in the United States after September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.<ref>{{#if: Drivers , organizers showing no fear - All involved feel safe after Sept . 11 attacks

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The Grand Prix road course, unlike the oval, is raced in a clockwise direction. This follows the general practice of Formula One, in which the vast majority of circuits (excepting Interlagos, Imola, Istanbul Park, and Abu Dhabi) run clockwise.

The short history of the event is littered with controversies. The 2002 United States Grand Prix was marred by a bizarre ending, in which Michael Schumacher, having already clinched the championship, seemingly tried to stage a dead heat with team-mate Rubens Barrichello. The official timings showed Barrichello ahead by 0.011 seconds at the line, leading fans and media to dub the event a farce.

The 2005 United States Grand Prix turned out to be one of the most controversial races in motorsport history. New rules meant cars had to use the same tires throughout the event. A practice crash on the banked corner (the only banked corner on the F1 calendar) led to Michelin realizing their tires were ill-equipped for the banking, and could complete no more than a fraction of the race before failing. The Michelin teams were unable to find a solution, and while debates raged until the second, the Michelin teams pulled into the pits at the end of the parade lap, leaving only the 3 Bridgestone teams to contest the race. As two of these teams were backmarkers under normal circumstances, this led to Ferrari winning the race, accepting the trophies from a presentation party hastily assembled after Speedway boss Tony George refused to take part.

The perceived outrage of this event put the future of Formula One at Indianapolis in doubt. However, the event was held on July 2, 2006, on the American Fourth of July weekend, with American Scott Speed driving for the new Scuderia Toro Rosso team. Speed had become the first American in Formula One since Michael Andretti drove for McLaren in 1993. In this race, Speed became the first American to compete in a United States Grand Prix since Eddie Cheever in 1989.

During the 2006 United States Grand Prix, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone said that it did not matter to him whether or not there was a Grand Prix in America, but also said he would be happy to discuss a new contract for the race.<ref>Ecclestone digs in over US deal – BBC – June 23, 2006</ref> There was also a rumor going around that in future seasons, there would be two Grands Prix held in the United States. Even with Ecclestone's statements, the 2007 calendar was confirmed on October 31, 2006, following an extension of the race contract into 2007.

On July 12, 2007, it was announced that Formula One would not return to the IMS for 2008, although a continuation of USGP at the IMS has not been completely ruled out for the future. Tony George stated difficulties in meeting the demands of Ecclestone to continue to host the event.<ref>Formula One Will Not Return In 2008 To Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Tony George Transcript – July 12, 2007</ref> George and Ecclestone were in talks to revive the race for 2009<ref>Indy could return in 2009</ref>, but no deal has been made for a future race in Indianapolis. In a statement on April 10, 2008, Indianapolis chairman Joie Chitwood said that the "door is open" for Formula One to return to the circuit.<ref>Indy remains 'open' to F1 return</ref> However, on May 25, 2010 it was announced that Formula One would return to the United States in 2012 at a new purpose-built track in Austin, Texas.<ref>Formula One Returns to the United States</ref> With this contract running until 2021 it is now unlikely that Formula One will return to Indianapolis in the near future.

Other sporting events held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

This logo is being used to commemorate the track's centennial from 2009 (the track's opening) through 2011 (the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500), drawing on elements from 1909, 1933 and 1961.

Plans are for a three-year "Centennial Era", announced on May 23, 2008 which will include a balloon festival to commemorate the first event, along with the next three Indianapolis 500 IRL races, the next three Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup races, and other special events.

On September 3, 2009, Grand-Am tested IMS as a potential future venue. A total of nine cars, representing both the Daytona Prototype and GT classes, participated. Laps were run in a clockwise direction (like Formula 1 at this track, and unlike MotoGP). For most of the test, the southwest turn of the oval was used (as it had been with Formula 1). A brief period in the middle of the day (approximately 20 minutes) was spent turning laps that included the southwest MotoGP road course section.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref>

Speed records

Indianapolis 500

Type Distance
Date Driver Time Average speed
(1 lap)
May 10, 1996 Template:Country flagicon Arie Luyendyk 0:00:37.616 239.260
(1 lap)
May 12, 1996 Template:Country flagicon Arie Luyendyk 0:00:37.895 237.498
(4 laps)
May 12, 1996 Template:Country flagicon Arie Luyendyk 0:02:31.908 236.986
(1 lap)
May 26, 1996 Template:Country flagicon Eddie Cheever 0:00:38.119 236.103
(200 laps)
May 27, 1990 Template:Country flagicon Arie Luyendyk 2:41:18.404 185.981
* Unofficial all-time track record, oval course; all laps run outside of direct qualification or race competition, unofficial

** Record did not count toward pole position, due to not being a first-day qualifier

Brickyard 400

Type Distance
Date Driver Time Average speed
(1 lap)
August 7, 2004 Template:Country flagicon Casey Mears 0:00:48.311 186.293
(1 lap)
August 7, 2005 Template:Country flagicon Tony Stewart 0:00:50.099 179.641
(160 laps) *
August 5, 2000 Template:Country flagicon Bobby Labonte 2:33:55.979 155.912
* The 2004 race distance was extended by one lap, to 402.5 miles (647.8 km),
due to NASCAR's green-white-checker rule.

United States Grand Prix

Type Distance
Date Driver Time Average speed
(1 lap)
June 19, 2004 Template:Country flagicon Rubens Barrichello 0:01:09.454 135.025
(1 lap)
June 19, 2004 Template:Country flagicon Rubens Barrichello 0:01:10.223 133.546
(1 lap)
June 20, 2004 Template:Country flagicon Rubens Barrichello 0:01:10.399 133.207
(73 laps)
June 19, 2005 Template:Country flagicon Michael Schumacher 1:29:43.181 127.173
* All-time track record, IMS original (2000–2007) road course

Race winners

Further information: Indianapolis Motor Speedway race results

Oval dimensions

Region Number Distance
(miles / km)
(feet / meters)
Long straightaways 2 0.625 / 1.006 50 / 15.2
Short straightaways 2 0.125 / 0.201 50 / 15.2
Turns 4 0.250 / 0.402 60 / 18.3 9°12'
Total/Average   2.500 / 4.023 54 / 16.5 3°3'

The Speedway has a graphic<ref>Speedway graphic</ref> on its web site that shows that the following landmarks could all fit within the dimensions of the oval at the same time:

  1. Vatican City
  2. The Colosseum in Rome
  3. The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Campus (home of the Wimbledon Championships)
  4. The Rose Bowl Stadium
  5. The original Yankee Stadium
  6. The racetrack at Churchill Downs (home of the Kentucky Derby), though not the stands or the rest of the complex

See also

Indianapolis 500 Races
Tracks of the Indy Racing League
Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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DetroitInfineonMid-OhioSt. PeteWatkins Glen <p> Former Tracks
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