The bricks above are why they call the Indianapolis Speedway the Brickyard. The track was all brick at the beginning. This line is all that you can see now, even though the bricks are still there under the asphalt. I’ve never watched the race so I was not aware of all the traditions that went with winning. One of the things is kissing the bricks. A good number of people on our tour (and some of the other tours) all kissed the bricks. Ugh. I guess I understand if you are a super fan, but it’s still gross.
We chose the VIP tour, which is obviously more expensive than the normal ¨Kiss the Bricks¨tour, but you get to go behind the scenes and our tour guide was phenomenal. He basically grew up going to the track and the race and knew so many random trivia facts it was impressive. The first thing that you do is board the bus and they take you around the track while a recording plays and points out some areas of interest. You get out at the start-finish line and have time to take pictures.
We were then taken to the area next to the Pagoda and up into the media room. It is a huge space that can fit three hundred people. The beautiful glass windows overlooking the track are wasted on them since they are staring at computer screens and monitors. They spend all day there and get three meals in the cafeteria on the floor below.
We walked down to the winner’s circle after the media room. The tour guide told us about the tradition of drinking a glass of milk after winning. It was started innocently by a winner who just loved buttermilk, but the dairy association latched onto it and had milk for every winner afterward. He told us stories about one winner who was allergic and STILL took a sip. This is probably due to a story about a man who won and refused the milk and was booed profusely. The cool part of the winner’s circle was the lift that brings the car up with the driver. We also learned about the trophy (which you can view in the museum after the tour) that has every winners´ face on it.
After the winner’s circle, we went over to the Pagoda. This building is basically dedicated to the VIP crowd. The tour guide said he has been there during a race, but it feels sterile watching it behind the glass. They don’t get the same experience because you can’t hear the noise or smells of the cars. I didn’t find the area very luxurious, to be honest, but it had amazing views of the track and the surrounding areas.
We returned to the bus and drove by the medical area and he explained that there is also space for a helicopter that would only take five minutes to reach the hospital on race day. We drove by the garages as well. They brought us back to the museum area that has quite a few of the winning race cars and a special exhibit on Rick Mears. My favorite story was about the first car with a rear view mirror debuted at the race. The driver didn’t have room for a mechanic in his car and said he would rely on the mirror. The problem was that the mirror moved too much for him to be able to see, but it did help with wind sheer. He didn’t need the mirror because he was always in the front.
I am not a big race car fan. I once went to the Daytona 500, but I don’t really have any desire to attend another race like that. The Indianapolis 500 has WAY more people (they can fit over 400,000 people there on race day) than any other track. It is the World’s Largest Sporting Venue. The thought of all those people is too much for me. It’s more than the population of Iceland! However, visiting the track and learning about the history was fascinating. I had a good time hearing the stories and it was cool to walk on the track and in the areas that we visited. I always like learning new things and I learned a lot about the race during our tour.