BRICKYARD 400 RACE EXPERIENCE
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
First Run: August 6, 1994
The Brickyard 400 is a relative newcomer to the storied history of NASCAR, beginning in 1994, but it has since become the sport's most-attended event, drawing nearly 250,000 spectators to the inaugural race. The Brickyard 400 made history in 1994 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the only race to be run at the famous track other than the Indianapolis 500. The event takes its name from the 1-yard stretch of bricks that run along the start/finish line of the track, and they are the last bricks that remain from the track's original brick pavement that was laid down in 1909. With NASCAR fully in the fold at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, drivers have embraced the tradition of kissing the bricks with their pit crews after taking the checkered flag. These kinds of unique moments hearken back to the early days of American auto racing and showcase just how intertwined NASCAR and stock car racing have been in the growth and popularity of the sport.
NASCAR had hoped to run a race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for generations, as the track is widely considered to be the Mecca of motorsport. The storied track was built in 1909 and hosted the Indianapolis 500 for more than a century before the Brickyard 400 began in 1994. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the largest spectator sporting facility in the world, which boasts an astounding 250,000 seats. The complex is so large that Churchill Downs, the Rose Bowl, the Roman Coliseum and Vatican City could all fit inside of the IMS oval, which spans nearly 253 acres. From top to bottom, the course is rich with history and tradition, which NASCAR was all too happy to embrace when the Brickyard 400 first launched.
The Brickyard 400 is one of a handful of races that takes place each year at the end of July during an extravaganza dubbed Super Weekend at the Brickyard. In addition to the Sprint Cup series race, drivers from the Nationwide Series and Grand Am levels also run races during the weekend, so there is plenty for fans to see and do during their visit. Tailgating and camping packages are also available, which could give fans the unique chance to park their RVs or campers in the famed IMS oval to reap the benefits of one of the most unique views in American motorsport. NASCAR is also well-known for its fan interaction events, so visitors may have a chance to visit the garages of their favorite drivers before the race to meet and greet and get an autograph or two in the process.
During the Brickyard 400's first running in 1994, Jeff Gordon took home the checkered flag and began a run of success that ties him with Jimmie Johnson as the only drivers to win the race four times. Other drivers, like Dale Jarrett and Tony Stewart, have won the event twice, but overall the unique location of the race, the huge spectator presence and its large Sprint Cup series points total have made it the most competitive race each year on the NASCAR circuit, second only to the Daytona 500.