Column By: DYLAN FRIEBEL / RPW – INDIANAPOLIS, IN – While planning my trip to Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway for the NASCAR Truck Series race, I started looking at things to do before the event. I was in the middle of nowhere Ohio, where it’s flat. What was there to do?
I had an idea, so I looked to see how far Indianapolis was from the Rossburg track. The GPS told me it was only two hours away so i planned an extra day into my trip so I could take in the sight that is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Let me just say this. I now understand why the speedway is called the Racing Capital of the World. You don’t realize how big the whole facility is, and to think, it sits within the highway system of the city of Indianapolis.
It’s actually located in Speedway, IN. Funny, right?
As you drive down West 16th Street, you start to get the actual scale of the facility. The towering grandstands with a grand entrance to the inside of the track and, more importantly, the museum. The museum in and of itself is a something worth the trip alone.
The racing history that inside that building is something to marvel at. I know I didn’t spend nearly as much time as I should have to get the entire scope of the track’s history. Trust me, I know I needed more, but I signed up for a VIP tour and had to board the bus earlier than i might have wanted.
With a promotional event happening on pit road of the track, we took the tour backwards from what they normally do. Being a member of the media, I got to check out my first true “Media Center.” Most dirt tracks in the northeast don’t have one so this was truly a sight.
If I was to say “WOW” it would be an understatement. The view of the track from the center was breathtaking. The tour guide told me the track approves close to 2,500 media credentials for the month of May. That is just mind-blowing. That’s just less than the White House issues on an annual basis (around 3,000).
It was clear throughout the tour that they are all about tradition at Indy. It was hammered into you that ‘we drink milk.’
“NASCAR drinks what’s on the hood of the car,” the guide said. “F-1 sprays champagne all over each other and on the crowd. So do the motorcycle people, However, here at Indy, we drink milk.”
Next up on the tour was a lap around the track, I was amazed at how banked the corners were and how narrow the track really is. Television really makes it seem wider than it is. I would venture a guess to say that it isn’t any wider than your average three-lane highway.
The corners are banked tremendously and then comes the infamous yard of bricks…and I got to kiss them. That was probably the most surreal moment for me. Getting the opportunity to kiss the same bricks that Dale Jarrett, Jeff Gordon, Dan Wheldon, Alexander Rossi and countless others been able to was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I even got a picture of myself doing it.
If you have to chance to go see the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, do it. Go and experience the history. Go and enjoy the mecca of racing. You won’t be disappointed.
I can tell you it’s well worth the trip to experience the historic significance of such a hallowed speedway and to learn about such rich, racing tradition in America’s Heartland.