Indianapolis is known as the auto racing capital of the world, and with good reason. From the Indianapolis Speedway area west of downtown all the way out into neighbouring Hendricks County, there’s plenty here to get your motor revving.
Home of the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the nexus of 16th Street and Georgetown Road, Speedway is Indy’s epicentre for racing fans of all persuasions — IndyCar, NASCAR, Formula 1 and MotoGP.
Dating back to 1911, the Indianapolis 500 remains the city’s signature event, taking the town by storm anew each May. The largest single-day sporting event in the world draws upwards of 250,000 fans, which flock to the track annually to watch the field of 33 drivers lap the two-and-a-half-mile-long oval 200 times. Residents pick up boxed lunches at local grocery stores and trickle in throughout the month for practice sessions and a slate of race-related events like Pole Day and Carb Day. The actual race itself, always held on the last Sunday in May, is full of pomp and ceremony from the parade laps to the waving of the final chequered flag.
Even when the cars and bikes aren’t running, the IMS grounds stay open year-round for tours that include a bus lap around the track (at low speed). The Hall of Fame Museum inspires pilgrimages among racing fans from around the world to marvel at the Borg-Warner Trophy and the 75 race cars on permanent display within these hallowed halls.
In contrast to the long-standing traditions at Indianapolis Speedway, the new-as-of-2012 Dallara IndyCar Factory stands just to the south on Speedway’s re-emerging Main Street. Here, modern interactive displays and exhibits educate visitors about the latest, greatest advances in IndyCar technology. Take a hot lap of your very own on the driving simulators; cruise the area in a street-legal two-seater race car; and stop in the on-site Lino’s Coffee to grab some of the most authentic Italian gelato, panini and espresso you’ll find this side of the pond.
Between the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Dallara, it’s easy to make a day of it. In addition, Speedway’s Main Street corridor is experiencing its own renaissance with new restaurants, boutique shops, galleries and an antique mall. All told, the entire area serves up a comprehensive look at the racing industry’s past, present and future.
A little further to the west in Hendricks County, the town of Brownsburg keeps the adrenaline going at the Lucas Oil Raceway, site of the National Hot Rod Association’s U.S. Nationals. Before or after hitting the track, sit down for a lunch or dinner of the best pulled pork and beef brisket around at Pit Stop Barbecue.
Written by Amy Lynch
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About the author: AmyLynchAmy Lynch
Amy Lynch is a freelance writer and editor in Indianapolis, Ind., and has traveled extensively throughout the United States and western Europe. A member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association, Amy’s work has appeared in Delta Sky, the Chicago Tribune, Midwest Living, Indianapolis Monthly, Cincinnati Magazine and Draft.