The Speedway celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 2011! The track opened in 1909 and is the world's largest spectator facility. It is so large that you could fit the Roman Coliseum, Vatican City, Wimbledon Campus, Rose Bowl, Yankee Stadium and Churchill Downs inside the 2.5-mile oval. Since 1911, the Speedway has been the home of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," the Indianapolis 500. The Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race has become one of NASCAR's most coveted races since the inaugural event in 1994. The Speedway also hosts the popular Red Bull Indianapolis GP MotoGP race on its 2.621-mile road course, highlighted by the world's best motorcycle riders competing at more than 200 mph.
The familiar practices of treasured traditions are comforting—that’s why we eagerly return to them, again and again, and emerge from those experiences with warmed hearts and renewed spirits.
I would suggest that, with regard to the Indianapolis 500, tradition is just as much a part of the allure of the event as the head-turning flash of motor cars and nearly unfathomable expanse of humanity. Generation upon generation of mother and son, grandfather and granddaughter have, largely, witnessed an evolution of the same venerable traditions played out each Central-Indiana May for more than a century. The thread of familiarity that encompasses the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and myriad activities that accompany it is tightly and skillfully woven—seemingly fixed—into the lives of those swept up by its magic.
The prospect of altering those hallowed May traditions—and the history of IndyCar racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in general—can be an unsettling proposition for any individual who is buoyed by their existence. I am one of those individuals. The Grand Prix of Indianapolis, a race featuring the IndyCar Series, will take place on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on May 10, 2014—1 day prior to the beginning of practice for the Indianapolis 500.
One of the interesting things about traditions is their dynamic nature. Over passing years, some thrive and grow, alternately, some wither and fade away, but rarely do they remain exactly the same. In this writer’s opinion, the addition of a second Indycar race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway provides a unique opportunity. Forthrightly, I have certain reservations, but sentiment aside, this is a rare chance to bolster the Month of May, the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, and the IndyCar Series, as a whole, simultaneously. It’s also an opportunity to establish a new and lasting tradition born from a sport many of us hold immeasurably dear. I’m willing to set my hesitations aside to see what the future brings.
You’re provided a special invitation: Join me, and thousands of other lovers of the Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in creating new memories…treasured touchstones that boast every probability of becoming an indelible part of the annual experiences your children and grandchildren enjoy each May. Will you join me in establishing a new Indianapolis 500 tradition?
– Chris S.
Author Bio: I’m just a grown-up kid who struggled to reconcile his fascination with American open-wheel racing against others’ passion for what played out between the lines of the gridiron and ball diamond. I first walked through the tunnel at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1973 at age 7 and was captivated. The next decade was spent pressed against chain link fence, straining for a closer look when, despite no real marketable skills, I plotted my way onto a startup Indycar team. Three years and two teams later, it was back to school. Since those heady days, I’m holding down a cozy cubicle, clinging to fences again, whenever the opportunity arises. Website: andhesonit.com. Twitter: @andhesonit.
In addition to the Indianapolis 500 , the speedway also hosts NASCAR 's Brickyard 400 . From 2000 to 2007 the speedway also hosted the United States Grand Prix for Formula One . The inaugural USGP race drew an estimated 400,000 spectators, setting a Formula One attendance record. In 2008, the Speedway added the Indianapolis motorcycle Grand Prix , a Grand Prix motorcycle racing event.