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Indianapolis, Indiana where they race round and round 500 times

© By Mary Martin
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Racepole When planning Indianapolis in 1821, surveyor Alexander Ralston allowed one square mile for the city, never imagining it would grow larger. Though Ralston's original design for downtown remains largely unchanged, Indianapolis has long since grown to become the nation's 13th largest city. In 2011, the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway celebrates 100th years of the celebrated 500-mile-race.
     The Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened in 1909 as a 2.5-mile oval track thanks to founders Carl G. Fisher, James A. Allison, Arthur C. Newby and Frank H. Wheeler. It's the largest spectator sporting facility in the world, with more than 250,000 permanent seats and the property encompasses 1,025 acres in northwest Indianapolis, including the track, Administration Building, Brickyard Crossing Golf Course and various parking areas.
     The Hulman-George family of Indianapolis and its parent company, Hulman & Company, headquartered in Terre Haute, Ind. owns the track which with four distinct turns and straight-aways, a layout unchanged since the facility opened in 1909.
     Each of the four turns on the oval is banked exactly at 9 degrees, 12 minutes, the same dimensions as when the track opened in 1909. In a layout built in 2007-08 for the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis GP MotoGP race in September 2008, the track has 16 turns (10 left, six right). The road course incorporates most of the front straightaway of the famed oval before entering the infield section of the circuit.
     In late 1909, the entire 2.5-mile crushed stone-and-tar oval was surfaced with 3.2 million paving bricks, creating the nickname "The Brickyard." Parts of the track were resurfaced with asphalt starting in 1936. In October 1961, the remaining bricks on the front straightaway were covered with asphalt except for a 3-foot strip, the famous "Yard of Bricks," at the start-finish line. Many of the original bricks remain under the asphalt surface around the oval.
     Tickets can be purchased by phone (317- 492-6700), online at www.imstix.com or in person at the ground floor of the Administration Building at 16th Street and Georgetown Road in Indianapolis from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. local time Monday through Friday. The Ticket Office also is open on weekends during events.

1909 Speedway  Race Museum  1961 Speedway, A J Foyt  All State 500  Indy Straightaway

     The Speedway Hall of Fame is located on the grounds of the facility in the infield between Turns 1 and 2 of the oval. It is the large, white building that fans see as they exit the tunnel while entering the facility at the main entrance, Gate 2, off of 16th Street. It's recognized as one of the most highly visible museums in the world devoted to automobiles and auto racing. In 1987, the Museum and Speedway grounds were honored with the designation of National Historic Landmark.
     Approximately 75 vehicles are on display, including race cars from the INDY 500, stock cars, Formula One cars, and a variety of vintage and current race cars. An extensive trophy collection, including the famed Borg-Warner Trophy presented annually to the Indianapolis 500 winner, is on display. The Museum also offers visitors the 48-seat Tony Hulman Theater, featuring a 20-minute presentation of rare historic footage and Indianapolis 500 highlights.
     The Museum is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. local time from March to October, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. from November to February, with extended hours during May. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The cost is $5 for adults, $3 for children age 6-15 and free for children 5 and younger. Call 317-492-6784
     Tour buses take visitors around the 2.5-mile oval whenever the track is not otherwise in use or closed because of inclement weather conditions, with stops along the way for narration about interesting and historical aspects of the facility.
     Track tours take place from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. local time from March to October, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. from November to February, with extended hours to coincide with gate times on event days. Tours are not available on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day. The cost is $5 for adults, $3 for children age 6-15 and free for children 5 and younger. Call 317-492-6784
     The first INDY 500 took place May 30, 1911. Myriad automobile and motorcycle races took place at the track in 1909, and more auto racing took place in 1910 before the Indianapolis 500 became the annual event, interrupted only by world wars in 1917-18 and 1942-45. The Firestone Freedom 100 debuted as part of the Indianapolis 500 schedule in 2003.
     Stock cars first raced at the Speedway in the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994, a NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) event which has taken place annually since then. The International Race of Champions series competed annually at the Speedway from 1998-2003 during Allstate 400 at the Brickyard weekend.
     A golf course was added to the Speedway in 1929. Renowned golf architect Pete Dye was commissioned to redesign the course in 1991, and the renamed Brickyard Crossing officially opened to the public in 1993. Four holes are located inside the infield of the oval, with 14 outside the back straightaway. A Senior PGA Tour (now Champions Tour) event, the Comfort Classic, took place at Brickyard Crossing from 1994-2000. The course has a full staff and pro shop. it's a public course. Call 317-492-6572.

Indy Hall Of Fame  Indy Cars  Payton Manning, Indiana Colts  Conseco Fieldhouse

Mary Martin is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is interested in and writes about world travel.

Photo Credits
Courtesy of Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Bureau
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway

If you go
This destination
as seen on
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indianapolis
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Indianapolis
About.com: http://indianapolis.about.com/od/indianapolis52/a/Indy500FestivalEventsCalendar2009.htm
Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Bureau: http://visitindy.com/

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