Gear Up for the Indy500

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Each Memorial Day weekend since 1911, hundreds of thousands of race fans gather at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. The Indy500 is a 200-lap race on a 2.5 mile course. 33 drivers compete for the Borg-Warner Trophy, introduced in 1936, which proclaims the event as the “Indianapolis 500-Mile Race”. Traditionally, the winner celebrates with a bottle of milk in Victory Lane (find out why)

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The Borg-Warner Trophy, presented to the winner of the Indy500.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum is located within the speedway’s 2.5 mile track.

On a personal note, IndyCar racing is not a sport I closely follow, and I was skeptical when I stopped at the speedway and museum going through Indiana on vacation many years ago. But I was amazed. The exhibits, the history and the facility itself all made it one of the most memorable tourist stops in my life. I highly recommend spending several hours there if you have time in Indianapolis. Just standing in the middle of a 253 acre oval is a unique wonder.

Link to the Official Indy Sites: Race website, Facility and Track Map, Hall of Fame Museum

You can experience racing locally. Northeast Kansas has many destinations. Travel no farther than our own Heartland Park, which hosts a number of NHRA and other racing events.Take a look at the “Racing Stars of Tomorrow” participating in the Topeka Quarter Midget Association. The Kansas Speedway hosts notable NASCAR races, among others.

The library has a number of books and videos available to ramp up to the race.

An excellent start is Indianapolis 500: The Legacy Series: “A five-disc DVD set that starts with the dawn of modern Indy racing featuring legendary drivers. See how the cars are able to race at higher speeds due to new technology. Relive the glory of Team Penske’s dominance, Sullivan’s ‘Spin and Win’ and Big Al’s miraculous fourth win. See how the 90’s marked the changing of the guard. Legends hung up their helmets and opened the door for the current generation of racing heroes.”

Continue with a few books:

Tales From the Indianapolis 500: A Collection of the Greatest Indy 500 Stories Ever Told by Jack Arute, with Jenna Fryer, foreword by A.J. Foyt.

Jackie Stewart’s Principles of Performance Driving, edited by Alan Henry.

The library also has several books for the younger racing fan:

Indy Cars by Sean McCollum
Indy Race Cars by Janet Piehl
Indy Cars by Carrie A. Braulick
The World’s Fastest Indy Cars by Glen Bledsoe

Matt Pettit

Matt is a Public Service Specialist for the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. His areas of responsibility include outreach library services to nursing homes, senior, retirement and congregate living centers; service to homebound library users; the Kansas Talking Books service; Book Group in a Bag program and the history and sports neighborhoods of the library’s nonfiction collection. With a background in public administration, conflict resolution and aging, Matt works on civic engagement and civil discourse issues for the library and serves on the advisory board of the Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging.