Indianapolis Motor Speedway open for over a century

Noah Cagle
News Editor

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, also known as the “racing capital of the world,” is home to the annual Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 motorsport events, layered with fascinating history, brick and asphalt.

According to IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com, in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built. 3.2 million bricks, each weighing relatively ten pounds, were aligned over the course of 63 days to create the two and a half mile long raceway known today as the home of Indycar. The first Indianapolis 500 was held in 1911, and although the event is held annually, the track was shut down during most of World War II because, according to ESPN.com, the federal government ordered a ban on motor racing. The 102nd Indianapolis 500 will take place in May 2018.

Some of the most common and useful innovations to modern day vehicles are believed to have originated in Indianapolis from the Indycar league. According to NBC News, Ray Harroun’s 1911 Marmon Wasp is said to have had the world’s first rear-view mirror, as well as understanding vehicular aerodynamics. This physical concept has helped cars like the Toyota Prius and the Honda CR-Z take advantage of the wind.

WCHS junior Brandon Lingenfelter has been going to the Indianapolis 500 for seven years, and he plans to attend his eighth consecutive visit this May.

Lingenfelter remembers his first Indy 500 race in 2011.

“My first 500 was in 2011 when the late Dan Wheldon won the race and when J.R. Hildebrand wrecked in turn four off the final lap, losing the race at the very end,” Lingenfelter said.

Lingenfelter discussed why he admires his favorite driver.

“My favorite Indycar driver is Ryan Hunter-Reay because I have liked him since the first Indycar race I went to because I liked the look of his car,” Lingenfelter said.

WCHS Junior Sophie Miller’s father works for Andretti Autosports and fuels gas for Ryan Hunter-Reay.

“During the week, when they’re not travelling to races, he works in the shop, in Zionsville, I believe,” Miller said. “They leave mostly on weekends and then come back the next week.”

According to IndyRacingMuseum.org, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, one can find many historical artifacts from the raceway, including IMS Chevrolet Camaro pace cars, which are cars that are used to give the racers an organized start at the beginning of a race.

Lingenfelter discussed how he’s interested in a career as a motorsport engineer, a profession that would put him behind the scenes at Indycar events.

“I want to be a racing engineer where you know the ins and out of the car, develop strategies and are constantly with the driver during the race talking to him through a headset,” Lingenfelter said.

He also said that he is interested in the ever changing aerokits, or aerodynamic body, as well as the growing Indycar league as a whole.

Miller says that she has considered a medical career in racing.

“I want to go into nursing and I thought about being the emergency room care for any accidents or crashes,” Miller said.

According to indyracingmuseum.org, the Indycar hall of fame features many amazing stories like the one of Michael Andretti, winning 42 races from 1985 to 2002. Andretti won the 1991 Indycar world series and ranked second five other times. Joe Boyer co-won the Indy 500 in 1924, after winning the race with a car that he didn’t start. He took over the racecar of L.L. Corum, another driver in the race.

The Nascar series is another popular racing league, hosting the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway annually. This is different to Indycar in terms of engineering. According to theindychannel.com, Nascar race cars are muscle cars, which are twice as heavy as Indycar races cars, but are built to withstand more damage. Miller says she isn’t intrigued by Nascar.

“I do not like Nascar,” Miller said. “It’s just like a normal car; in Indycar there’s a lot more aerodynamics to it, and the car is shaped differently, and there’s so much more to it than Nascar.”

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indycar series have brought vehicular innovations and allowed for advancements in vehicular science, aerodynamics but also in vehicle safety. Indycar has also brought entertainment to many fans worldwide, making it the largest racing event.

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