Indianapolis Motor Speedway is probably the most famous of all the North American oval tracks, challenged only by Daytona. It is a 2.5 mile, mildly banked oval located in Speedway, Indiana just west of Indianapolis. An outstanding museum devoted to motorsports is located on the grounds, giving a good reason to visit there anytime during the year. The museum is open 364 days a year; I have never inquired as to which day is the one they close on. I suggest not attempting to visit the museum on Christmas, Easter, or a race day.
Since 2000, the US Grand Prix has been held on a road course built in the infield for this purpose.
Last Updated: 2007-05-27
The track opened as a 2.5 mile crushed stone oval on August 15th, 1909. The first race was a motorcycle race; the first auto race was on August 19th of that year. The first races were marred by tragedy, and blaming the surface, track founder Carl Fisher had the track repaved with bricks after the August 1909 races. After a safer but less successful series of races in 1910, the Indianapolis 500 was first held on May 27th, 1911. The track operated until September 16th, 1916, reopening after WWI in 1919. In 1927, Fisher sold IMS to Eddie Rickenbacker, the WWI flying ace and former race car driver. Rickenbacker operated the brick track until May 30th, 1938, after which it was paved conventionally. The paved track opened on May 30th, 1939, operating until May 31st, 1941, when it closed for WWII. During the war, it was used as an aircraft repair depot.
The track was purchased in late 1945 by local businessman Tony Hulman, who restored the track to operation. The track is presently owned by his daughter Mari and his grandchildren.
|Allan E. Brown, The History of America's Speedways: Past & Present. Comstock Park, Michigan: Brown, 2003 , ISBN 0931105617 , pp. 283. Order from National Speedway Directory
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
4790 W 16th St
Speedway, IN 46222
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
P. O. Box 24910
Speedway, IN 46224
317-484-6759 (Administration Fax)
317-484-6780 (Public Relations)
Here is a map showing the road course for the US Grand Prix.
To reach infield seating, it is necessary to get to one of the tunnels under the track; these are roughly at gates 2, 7, and 10. The gate 10 pass under is easily accessible from gates 9 and 11; the other pass unders are best reached from the adjacent gates. Parking becomes difficult and entry becomes crowded as race time approaches; consider arriving early (8am or so) to avoid the crush, and obtain closer parking. Consider how you will leave the area post race when selecting a place to park.
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The "best" way to get to IMS depends very much on what day it is. On one of the two race weekends, you're on your own; best to make your selection based on your seating and how early you can stand to get there (see the track map above for more comments.) If you are visiting at another time of year, perhaps to see the Museum, the main entrance is on 16th Street, just east of the junction of 16th and Georgetown.
On a race weekend, good luck. You'll need it. People traveling to IMS for a race may stay 20 miles or more outside of Indianapolis. Hotels charge prices that are only justified by demand, and expect 2 or 3 night minimums. Campgrounds are completely booked up.
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