Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Home of the Indianapolis 500
Experience the Park Indianapolis Motor Speedway Fan Guide
Kiss the Bricks
The first race at the site of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was run in 1909, and the track was a dangerous admixture of tar and rocks. It was a disaster with wrecks and fires and the deaths of racers and spectators alike.
Carl G. Fisher altered the racing industry forever with a single idea: pave the track with bricks. Something smooth (relatively), something uniform. He, along with a few pals (James Allison, Frank Wheeler and Arthur Newby) officially bought the property for $250,000. And 3.2 million bricks later, on Memorial Day, May 30, 1911, “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” was born. One year later, the newly dubbed Indianapolis 500 had the highest purse for any race in the world.
By the mid-1930s, however, it was clear that with ever-increasing speeds achieved by the drivers and their cars, an alternate racing surface would be needed. In 1937, asphalt replaced the bricks around the turns. In 1938, the asphalt was extended to include the beginnings and endings of the straight-aways and turns. Eventually, the track’s bricks were completely paved over except for a small strip, three feet wide, at the start/finish line. It remains today as a clear reminder of how the Speedway got its nickname, The Brickyard.
Winners of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard started kissing that strip of bricks – and other drivers have followed – to pay tribute to the Speedway’s rich history and its status as probably the most famous racetrack in the world.