SPEEDWAY'S FAMOUS 'YARD OF BRICKS' BACK IN PLACE
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, March 9, 2005 -- One of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's most visible pieces of history returned to its rightful place March 9 as crews began reinstalling the famous "Yard of Bricks" at the start/finish line.
The Speedway's "Yard of Bricks" serves as a tribute to the 2.5-mile oval's most famous surface -- 3.2 million paving bricks that were laid down in autumn 1909, just months after the track opened with a tar and crushed stone surface. Most of the bricks, except the middle portion of the main straightaway, were paved over with asphalt by 1939.
In 1961, the main straightaway was finally paved with asphalt, and the "Yard of Bricks" tribute was established.
Installing the new "Yard of Bricks," which consists of more than 570 of the 1909-vintage bricks that were most recently in storage, signals the ceremonial end to a massive repaving project that saw 19,000 tons of asphalt laid to repave the Speedway's 2.5-mile oval, pit lane and warm-up lanes. Crews began the project by milling 2.5 inches of the old surface in August 2004 and completed the paving process in early November.
The irony of anchoring the Speedway's brand-new asphalt surface with paving bricks that were the "state of the art" 96 years ago was not lost on Kevin Forbes, IMS director of engineering and construction and supervisor for the repaving project.
"I think there is a wonderful dichotomy there in that we have the most modern racetrack surface that science can help us develop, (and) the 'Yard of Bricks' simply represents where this racetrack came from," Forbes said. "When people think of roots, they always think of something that goes underground and is hidden. This 'Yard of Bricks' allows the roots of the Speedway to always be visible."
The previous bricks were carefully removed beginning Aug. 9 -- one day after Jeff Gordon became a four-time Brickyard 400 winner. Crews then cut them into small pieces, and the Speedway made them available for sale to the public as a collectible item.
Crews paved over the location of the "Yard of Bricks" during the repaving process last fall. Recently, they cut and removed an asphalt strip and began the process of installing the bricks. Forbes said this paving method was used to ensure the smoothest surface possible.
"Every time you stop and start (paving), it creates a joint," he said. "With every joint, you have an opportunity for a bump. So we simply paved over it (the 'Yard of Bricks' location) and then came back and very neatly sawed the asphalt."
Track crews have a few ancillary projects remaining to get the track into race-ready condition: striping the track, cutting in timing-and-scoring lines, and completing the installation of a new SAFER Barrier.
Brick collectibles remain available in limited quantities and can be obtained at the Brickyard Authentics Online Store at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, at the Speedway gift shops located in the Hall of Fame Museum or the Brickyard Authentics retail stores at Indianapolis International Airport and Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis.
IMS tickets: To purchase tickets, camping or parking for either the Indianapolis 500, United States Grand Prix or Brickyard 400, contact the IMS ticket office at (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, (317) 492-6700 locally or log on to www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.