Five miles northwest of Indiana’s capital city, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built on 328 acres of farmland in the spring of 1909. It was first planned as a year-round testing facility for the fast-growing automobile industry in Indiana. There were occasional race meets presented at the track that featured the same manufacturers racing their products against each other. These events attracted spectators to the showrooms for a closer look at the new automobiles demonstrated.

The original surface of crushed rock and tar proved to be disastrous at the opening motorcycle and automobile racing events in August of 1909. A total number of 3,200,000 paving bricks were brought in by rail from western Indiana in the fall and laid on their sides in a bed of sand and fixed with mortar to solve the problem. This inspired the nickname of “The Brickyard.”

There was poor attendance at a trio of three-day meets on the revamped surface in 1910. For the following year in 1911, owners focused on a single event. The vision was of a gigantic event offering lots of money. On May 30th, Memorial Day a 500-mile race that paid $14,250 to first place winner made an instant success and attracted universal recognition. This day created the historical inaugural Indianapolis 500.

An additional program of racing on a single day in September 1916 and the Indianapolis 500 were the only races to be held at the Speedway until the successful NASCAR stock car event, called the “Brickyard 400”, debuted in 1994. The Indianapolis 500 race has been held every year since except during America’s involvement in the two world wars, 1917-1918 and 1942-1945.

Several improvements of the track over the years has taken place, however, most of the original paving bricks are still in place underneath the modern asphalt surface, and only the famous “yard of bricks” are still exposed at the start/finish line as a nostalgic reminder of the Indianapolis 500’s past. The track has only changed ownership twice. Present owners and operators are the Hulman-George family.


The timing-and-scoring suite in the Bombardier Pagoda, the Media Center, Victory Podium, Gasoline Alley garage area and the world-famous “Yard of Bricks,” are part of the Grounds Tour. These areas are normally accessible only to officials, drivers and teams during events.

Guests at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway may also tour the Hall of Fame Museum while riding around the 2.5-mile IMS oval in one of the Museum’s tour buses. There is a stop at the “Yard of Bricks” to allow poses for photographs.

The 2007 Grounds Tours take place from March through November. Tours wrap up for the year on Thanksgiving weekend, November 23-24. If you would like to add the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to your list of vacation ideas, keep in mind that most of the tours take place in prime family vacation time which is late June, July and early August.

The tours are scheduled to depart from the Hall of Fame Museum four times per day on scheduled tour days. Times are 9:30 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard time.

Location of the Hall of Fame Museum: The IMS infield, just inside the main gate (Gate 2) off 16th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. Tickets for admission to the Hall of Fame Museum and the tour are $25 for adults, $10 for youth ages 6-15 and free for children age 5 and younger. Contact the Hall of Fame Museum office at 317-492-6747 for more information.

Source: Indy 500 Tour Guide, Indianapolis, Indiana

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© 2007 Connie Limon All Rights Reserved

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Written by: Connie Limon. For more vacation ideas visit
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