Indy 500: The Most Famous Bricks In Motorsport

Indy 500: The Most Famous Bricks In Motorsport

May 29th 2022

The Indy 500 is one of the biggest events in the American sporting calendar - and this pivotal racing event also has a big link to bricks.

We love sport and pay particular attention if bricks make an appearance in stadiums and venues - which is why the Indianapolis Speedway, the home of the Indy 500 motor race and the highest-capacity sporting venue in the world, is on our radar.

Some facts to get you started

  • Located in a suburb of Indianapolis called Speedway, the imaginatively named Indianapolis Speedway was constructed in 1909.
  • It was the second purpose-built track of its kind and it's the third oldest permanent auto racetrack in the world.
  • The main events hosted there are the Indy 500 (the most prestigious event in the IndyCar calendar) and the Verizon 200 (a NASCAR event).
  • It has previously hosted the F1 US Grand Prix and some MotoGP events.
  • It was designated a US national landmark in 1987.
  • It's the highest-capacity sports venue in the world, with almost 260,000 seats.

What about the brick connection?

The Speedway has been nicknamed The Brickyard since its first year in operation, when the original track was paved with bricks.

More than 3.2 million bricks were hand laid over a cushion of sand then levelled out before the gaps were filled with mortar. The bricks themselves were supplied by five different Indiana-based manufacturers and such was the scale of the task that it gained its nickname before the work was finished.

After 63 days of work, the final brick, which was made of gold, was laid in a special ceremony. Unsurprisingly many of the bricks have now gone, following gradual repaving with asphalt, which finished in 1961.

They left behind 3 feet of bricks from the original paving so rather than a 'brickyard' they now have a 'yard of bricks' at the start/finish line.

Kissing the bricks is now a tradition which started in 1996 by NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett. He kneeled and kissed the yard after winning, in tribute to the history of this famous venue. Winners in other sports have followed in replicating this tribute since.

The origins of the circuit

The brains behind the speedway was a man called Carl G. Fisher. He originally wanted a means of testing cars before delivering them to consumers. However, motorsport racing was also starting to grow in popularity, and he modelled the track after the Brooklands racing circuit outside London.

Wanting to build the world's greatest racetrack, Fisher and some partners bought the site in 1908 and construction began in March 1909. Throughout the remainder of 1909 the track was used for racing and practice. However, the track surface, which was mostly packed soil, gravel and crushed stone, caused some concern.

Imperfections began forming in the turns and drivers would end up covered in dirt. After numerous accidents resulting in the deaths of both drivers and spectators, Fisher realised something had to be done about the surface. The brick paving began less than a month after the first races.

The Golden Age

The track had its so-called Golden Age between 1912 and 1929 when it became a centre of international racing and acclaim. European racers began to win races and, as such, more international drivers started to get involved.  

Original founders Fisher and James Allison sold the speedway to former racing driver Edward V. Rickenbacker after bids from other developers that they had turned down. Rickenbacker preserved its racing purpose but added other features such as an infield golf course which is still in use today.

Until recently, the US had been without a permanent F1 Grand Prix but from 2000 to 2008 a Grand Prix was held at The Brickyard following a two-year renovation that added an infield course, incorporating some of the original track.

With some controversies regarding driver safety and falling attendance it was removed from the calendar in 2008.

The racing legacy

One thing that will never leave the racing calendar though is the Indy 500 - the pivotal event in the venue's busy schedule. The first 500-mile race was held in 1911 and there have been annual races pretty much ever since.

The race is also part of the prestigious Triple Crown of Motorsport, a coveted challenge elite drivers must win the Indy 500, the F1 Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans Endurance race too - something only motorsport legend Graham Hill has ever achieved.

We're here for you

If you fancy bringing a touch of high-octane glamour to your latest project but can't decide which bricks to use, our free Brick Selection service could be just what you need; if you want to use bricks that blend seamlessly with the rest of your home, our Brick Matching service could be right up your street; or if you'd prefer to browse bricks for yourself, we have more than 3,600 products to choose from in our Brick Library!

Our expert Brick Advisors are standing by to help you figure out how many bricks you need for your project, then source them and find you the best price - we'll even arrange delivery too!