No. 984
February 20, 2018

About The UjianNasional

Author, commentator, influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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May 6, 2009

It's still Indy, which for most of us is plenty good enough.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

(Posted 5/5, 11:30AM) Detroit.
It's no secret that Indy isn't what it once was, but then again not too many things are these days. Back in the 60s when drivers and mechanics were chasing the "magic" 200MPH speed barrier, massive crowds would turn out for the quest and to hear the engines scream and hear Tom Carnegie's sultry baritone say, "And it's a new track record..." And it was also the era of garage schemers with big ideas and even bigger dreams who would show up each May with another "can't miss" creation that would lead them to glory. And sometimes tragedy.

But wishing things were like they once were isn't a value-added activity in this day and age. We can respect the traditions, of course, and wish to ourselves that it was "the way it was" but at the end of the day Indy is what it is, complete with its numerous flaws and frustrations.

The spec racing situation of today's Indianapolis 500, for one, is highly annoying. The mechanical diversity and "blue sky" thinking that once enlivened The Speedway has been totally eradicated by the fact that technology completely overwhelmed the sport in the late 70s, and the rules and regulations became an annual dance to slow the machines down rather than encourage innovation. Having one brand of engine power in the race seems like cruel and unusual punishment too. With all due respect to Honda - which has basically carried the sport on its back for the last few years and deserves huge credit for doing so - Indy would be so much better off with several different engines participating. We can only hope with the dawn of the new rules package in 2011 that we can see a rebirth of that notion. And these are just some of the problems associated with the Indy that annoy hardcore fans and racers alike.

But there's still plenty of good stuff to appreciate about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 too.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway kicks off a special three-year Centennial Era celebration this year, commemorating the opening of the track in 1909 and the crucial two years leading up to the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

For those who need reminding, The Speedway sent along some salient facts for us to think about:

The track was built in 1909 by Carl Fisher, James Allison and Arthur Newby as a testing facility to support Indiana’s growing automobile industry and on June 5, 1909, the Speedway hosted its first competitive event – a gas-filled balloon race. The first motorized race featured motorcycles on Aug. 14, 1909. And the first automobile race was held August 19, 1909.

The racing surface was originally made of crushed stone, but it deteriorated rapidly and the decision was made to pave the track with bricks. In a span of 63 days in late 1909, 3.2 million paving bricks, each weighing 9.5 pounds, were laid on top of the surface. From that point on, the track has been known as The Brickyard.

A golf course has been part of the Speedway landscape since 1929. Today, the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course sits on the same land outside the oval backstretch and includes four holes inside the infield.

In 1935, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the first track to install safety-warning lights.

In 1936, Louis Meyer became the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 three times. He requested a bottle of buttermilk in Victory Lane, creating the inspiration for the winner to drink milk, an annual tradition since 1956.

In 1945, the track was purchased by the Hulman family, which retains ownership to this day as the Hulman-George family.

In 1956, the first Hall of Fame Museum on the grounds was completed.

In 1976, the entire track was resurfaced with asphalt, marking the first complete repaving since the bricks were laid in 1909, although portions of the track had been resurfaced with asphalt as early as 1936. The track was repaved again in 1995 and 2004. An original “Yard of Bricks” remains at the start/finish line.

In 2002, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the first racetrack in the world to install the SAFER Barrier, an energy-absorbing system along the concrete walls.

The grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway covers a massive 253 acres. Vatican City, Churchill Downs, Wimbledon Complex, Roman Colosseum, Yankee Stadium and the Rose Bowl could all fit inside the Speedway with room to spare.

Even with all of its flaws and frustrations, there's still nothing like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500. I look forward to this abbreviated "Month of May," even though in today's attention-deficit world we live in the entire show could be compressed into a week start to finish.

I wouldn't like that, however. Even though many of our traditions are scoffed it and deemed irrelevant and inconsequential in this relentlessly crass day and age, for racing enthusiasts Indy is still Indy for the most part, and for most of us that's plenty good enough.


See another live episode of "Autoline After Hours" hosted by Autoline Detroit's John McElroy, with Peter De Lorenzo and auto industry PR veteran Jason Vines this Thursday evening, May 7, at 7:00PM EDT at .

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Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Ford Racing Archives)
Indianapolis, IN, May, 1963. Dan Gurney prepares for a practice run in his Lotus "Powered by Ford." Gurney was instrumental in bringing Ford and Colin Chapman to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which helped give momentum to the mid-engine "revolution" at the Brickyard. Jimmy Clark would finish 2nd to Parnell Jones that first year in a controversial finish as Speedway officials refused to black flag Jones' Offy roadster which was badly leaking oil at the end of the race. Gurney would finish 7th - on seven cylinders. Clark would lead Ford and Lotus to victory in 1965 validating Gurney's vision and ending the front-engine roadster era at The Speedway for good. From 1962 to 1970 Gurney made 30 starts in Indy Cars with 10 Pole Positions, 7 wins and 9 additional podiums. He also finished second twice at the Indianapolis 500.