Arguably the most iconic racing circuit in the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been hosting the legendary Indianapolis 500 since 1911.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway largely came into being because of Carl G. Fisher, who believed a purpose built track would be a better means of testing and racing cars, rather than using makeshift road courses. The Speedway was only the second purpose-built racing circuit in history, after Brooklands. The oval is 4km long and features four geometrically identical turns.
Construction began in March 1909, and the first event held at the circuit was a helium balloon competition, two months prior to the circuit’s completion. In August 1909, the circuit opened with a series of motorcycle races. Two years later, the iconic Indianapolis 500 was born. The Indianapolis 500 is the world’s oldest motor race which is still running to the present day. The much celebrated event is held annually in May, coinciding with Memorial Day. The race is steeped in tradition, from pre-race events, to the winner being handed a drink of milk in Gasoline Alley after their victory. A. J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears share the record for most wins at the Brickyard, with four apiece.
Since the turn of the millennium, Indianapolis has lured the premier tier of international motor racing. Formula 1 revived the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2000. The event took place on the longer road course, which incorporates part of the famous banked oval. The banked section led to a farcical afternoon in 2005, as tyre worries led to only six cars starting the race. The event damaged F1’s reputation in America and the circuit hosted its final US Grand Prix in 2006. MotoGP also visited the track between 2008 and 2015 for the Indianapolis Grand Prix, with the event being won three times by Marc Márquez. The first event in 2008 marked the return of motorcycle racing to the track for the first time since 1909.
In November 2019, Hulman & Company sold its company, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to Penske Corporation. Roger Penske has since expressed an interest in Formula 1 returning to the iconic track.
Major events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2021
- May 18-30: 2021 Indianapolis 500
- August 13-15: Brickyard Road Course Doubleheader (NASCAR, NASCAR XFINITY, INDYCAR)
- View all upcoming events at Indianapolis Speedway
How to get there
Indianapolis the capital of Indiana and is located in the northeast of the USA, around 200 miles south of Chicago.
Indianapolis International Airport (IND) serves almost 10 million passengers annually on mainly domestic routes. Popular airlines serving IND include Southwest, Delta, American and United. Air Canada also serves IND with direct flights from Toronto Pearson. The airport is around 12 miles from downtown, which costs around $30 in a taxi.
Sample driving times to Indianapolis:
- Louisville (120 miles): 1 hour 50 minutes
- Cincinnati (120 miles): 1 hour 50 minutes
- Chicago (180 miles): 2 hours 45 minutes
- Columbus (180 miles): 2 hours 45 minutes
- Louise (240 miles): 3 hours 40 minutes
- Detroit (290 miles): 4 hours 30 minutes
- Nashville (295 miles): 4 hours 15 minutes
- Atlanta (540 miles): 7 hours 40 minutes
- New York (710 miles): 10 hours 40 minutes
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) is just 5 miles northwest of downtown. The best way to get to the circuit is by car, taxi/ride sharing or shuttle. Be aware of road closures during major race weekends; click here for a parking map.
During the Indy 500 weekend, a shuttle service is offered from both Indianapolis International Airport and Gate Ten Events & Parking. Standard return tickets cost $45. Click here for more information.
Where to stay
A wide range of accommodation is available near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, though prices and demand are high for major events such as the Indy 500.
Camping is available for RVs and tents on various lots (sealed, grass, gravel, dirt) both inside and outside the circuit gates. Learn more about camping for the Indy 500 here – please note that popular campsites sell out well in advance of race weekend.
The state capital of Indiana has a good selection of hotels, apartments and other accommodation available, though early booking is essential for major events such as the Indy 500. Recommended hotels close to the speedway include Courtyard by Marriott Indianapolis West-Speedway, Speedway Legacy INN, Candlewood Suites Indianapolis Downtown Medical District, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Indianapolis Airport and Holiday Inn Express & Suites Indianapolis W – Airport Area. You can also choose to stay in downtown Indianapolis with better access to shopping, restaurants and nightlife.
Museum & Guided Tours
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, located on the grounds of the speedway, houses the IMS Hall of Fame and a large collection of former Indy 500 winning cars.
More than 25 cars that have won the Indy 500 are displayed in the museum, as well as the Borg-Warner trophy that’s awarded to the winners each year. Temporary exhibitions are also planned throughout the year.
From March to October, the museum is open every day between 9am-5pm. (10am-4pm from November to February). Adult entry costs $12: seniors (62+) pay $11, children (6-15) pay $8 and children aged 5 and under are FREE.
Behind the Scenes tours of IMS, which include museum entry, are also available. The 60-minute tour provides access to the Media Center, Victory Podium, Pagoda (Timing & Scoring, Master Control Rooms), and a corporate suite. You also get to drive down Gasoline Alley and past the Garage Area. Behind the Scenes tours cost $25 for adults (16+), $24 for seniors (62+) and $15 for children (6-15). Free entry for first child under 5 with paying adult, $2 for additional children. Learn more and check tour schedules here.
Map courtesy IMS. Click here for more maps.