Why is the Indianapolis circuit nicknamed the « Brickyard »?
Built in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was first covered with a surface made up of different types of gravel. During private tests, the pilots then expressed a lot of concerns about the grip offered by the surface.
It was then that Carl G. Fisher, the man behind the four kilometer circuit project, decided to cover the original surface with 3.2 million bricks! Despite the vibrations, they indeed made it possible to offer a much better grip. It was before the end of 1909 that the work was completed, and the locals began to call the circuit the « Brickyard ».
The bricks lasted until 1938, when the majority of the circuit was replaced by a layer of asphalt, except for the pit straight. The latter was paved in 1961 (the year Jack Brabham showed up with a rear-engined car on the Speedway), except for a strip of 91 centimeters, on the finish line.
This « Yard of Bricks » is made up of bricks from the original surface, which are now all stored in one of the « Ali Baba’s caves » of the circuit… The remaining line is quite regularly replaced, always by bricks from the original surface. In 2011 a commemorative brick was added, still from 1909, but with an engraved inscription, representing 100 years of racing at the Speedway.
In 1996, NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett, winner of the Brickyard 400, started a new tradition, that of kissing the bricks laid out on the finish line. A tradition now respected by each winner of the Indianapolis 500 Miles, and which will be repeated in 23 days from now…