Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Visiting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Hall of Fame museum - A little bit of racing history with a bus trip around the track

Published by J Pancoast

Blue Corvette at the Hall of Fame Museum, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Credit: JPancoast

What many don't know is that there's a super secret slave holding pen in Sidepodcast towers where Mr. and Mrs. C force users to write guest posts. The punishment for not complying? Eating baguettes with Bertrand Baguette!. So here's my guest post. Hopefully they'll let me out. I miss good pizza. And my family.

Late last summer we went to visit some family in Indianapolis. When you're a bit of a racing fan, and you're in Indy, the first thing that comes to mind is the speedway, sometimes referred to as the "brickyard" because it was originally paved with bricks. I thought I might be able to steal some time and go by myself or with my son and maybe daughter. As it turns out I actually convinced the wife to go so off we all went!

The only racetrack I'd ever been to before is a dirt oval in upstate New York so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The first thing that hit me was the sheer size. The size of the stands, the track, everything. You have to drive under the track to get to the infield! Who'da thunk that!?

You can pay a few dollars and get a bus ride around the track so we did. This is where the size of the place comes in. The track has permanent seating for 250,000, but if the infield is used (as they like to do in Nascar) the capacity goes up to 400,000. When you watch it on TV and you see the lap times (in the high 30's/low 40's) you think it's not that long. But you're wrong. At least I was. The oval is 2.5 miles and the F1 circuit was slightly longer at 2.6 miles. The tour takes you around the oval.

You tour the oval counter-clockwise, opposite to the way the F1 circuit went, starting between turns 12 and 13. The first thing you might notice is that inside of turn 13 they've cut out more road course since the US GP, similar to the turns 1-7 area. They run Moto GP races and other things I can't remember in those areas. The banking is very severe (to me) and the bus stays all the way at the bottom as it's not travelling at a zillion miles an hour. The back straight actually runs through the middle of a golf course and several holes are in the infield.

Coming down the main straight the first thing I noticed was the Pagoda which is a very out of place design in my mind. There was also a MotoGP awards stand (they were getting ready for the Indy Red Bull race). But then I see what I'm really there for... the F1 garages! Proof that, yes Virginia, they once had Formula 1 races right on this very spot! I never thought I'd get so excited at seeing garages, but I was. Hopefully they'll be used for F1 again someday (and my family is still in the area so I have a place to crash). Here's an aerial photo of the track taken when they were putting the road circuit in turn 13. The pagoda is almost exactly in the center of the picture. The museum is the white building on the right side of the picture just above the dirt area. You can see a few holes of the golf course and also the F1 circuit if you look closely enough.

As one might expect, the IMS Hall of Fame Museum is full of cars of all sorts, ranging from old Ferrari's, Maserati's, and Alfa's all the way up to modern Indy and Nascar. The history of the track is covered in some detail with a short film (the wikipedia article gives a good summary). I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked, as I was stuck with a fixed 50mm lens and couldn't get most of the cars fully in frame, but this is what I managed to get. You can view the full gallery on SmugMug.

Benetton B191B from 1991
Benetton B191B from 1991Credit: JPancoast

This right here is the Benetton B191B from 1991. It's powered by a Ford/Cosworth engine. The drivers for the team that year were some guy named Michael Schumacher and Riccardo Patrese.

Jim Clark's 1963 Lotus
Jim Clark's 1963 LotusCredit: JPancoast

This is probably my favorite car in the museum. It's a 1963 Ford powered Lotus, built by Colin Chapman, and driven by Jim Clark during his rookie Indy 500, in which he placed second. To be honest, it wasn't my favorite when visiting, but after reading Steven Roy's excellent post about Clark I realized that this car had been driven by someone special. Plus, the paint job rocks, I love the general look of the car, and it's powered by a Ford engine! I'm constantly amazed by how thin the tires were on earlier cars. Another interesting point is the geometry. I didn't notice this while I was there but you can easily tell in the picture that the wheels on the right side are farther away from the body than the wheels on the left.

Graham Hill's 1968 Lotus
Graham Hill's 1968 LotusCredit: JPancoast

One of the more interesting cars in terms of technology (the paint scheme is terrible). This is Graham Hill's 1968 Lotus which he raced in the 500 that year. The interesting thing about this car is it is powered by a Pratt and Whitney turbine engine. Unfortunately a suspension part failed on lap 110 and it didn't complete the race.

I don't have much information on the rest of these cars, other than the obvious (what you can already tell from the pictures). The first one is a Porsche of some sort, the picture at the top of the post is a Corvette. Of those below, the Alfa, Ferrari, and Maserati are my favorites. I just love the style of those cars and the thin tires. They lead me to thinking "the guys that drove these were crazy".

A Porsche at the Hall of Fame Museum
A Porsche at the Hall of Fame MuseumCredit: JPancoast
An Alfa Romeo at the Hall of Fame Museum
An Alfa Romeo at the Hall of Fame MuseumCredit: JPancoast
A Ferrari, at the Hall of Fame Museum
A Ferrari, at the Hall of Fame MuseumCredit: JPancoast
A Maserati at the Hall of Fame Museum
A Maserati at the Hall of Fame MuseumCredit: JPancoast