A century of racing

Indy’s rich history is on show at the Speedway – at a bargain price

So the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built in 1909 – but incredibly the first permanent building at the world’s greatest race track wouldn’t go up for another 47 years!

You could say heritage at Indy has always been important, because that first building to be erected was a museum. Tony Hulman, who bought IMS in 1945, commissioned the construction and the museum opened in the spring of ’56. But it was only big enough to include six cars.

Different story today. The ‘new’ museum (above), which opened in ’76, houses one of the best racing collections in the world. If you want to see what 100 years of motor racing history looks like, take the tunnel under the ‘chute’ between Turns 1 and 2, then head for the big building directly in front of you.

At least 75 cars are on show at all times, ranging from the Marmon ‘Wasp’ which won the first Indy 500 in 1911 driven by Ray Harroun to all four of A J Foyt’s Brickyard winners. The collection of roadsters, Indy oddities and be-winged classics from the 1970s and ’80s is stunning. There is also a delightful recreated 1960s-era pit garage that is painstakingly accurate to the period.

But the first thing you see on entering the museum really throws you. As explained in Eoin Young’s feature in the February issue, Rudolf Caracciola’s complete collection of trophies is housed here. Then there is an eclectic mix of Le Mans sports cars, a Mercedes W196 Grand Prix car and, with a nod to Indy’s MotoGP race, an assortment of racing bikes. Then there’s the memorabilia, lining the walls… amazing.

So, there you have it. One hundred years of Indy, plus a few unexpected ‘extras’. And the price? It’s just $3 to get in… DS