The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, located in Speedway, Indiana, in the United States, is the home of the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400. Considered relatively flat by American standards, the track is a two-and-a-half-mile, nearly rectangular oval with dimensions that have remained essentially unchanged since its inception: four 1⁄4-mile (400 m) turns, two 5⁄8-mile-long (1,000 m) straightaways between the fourth and first turns and the second and third turns, and two 1⁄8-mile (200 m) short straightaways, termed "short chutes", between the first and second, and third and fourth turns.
The Panasonic Pagoda is one of the most recognizable structures at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and in worldwide motorsports. The current Panasonic Pagoda was built during the massive construction project from 1998-2000 at IMS that included the original, 2.605-mile road course, Formula One-style pit side garages and media center. The Panasonic Pagoda towers in its magnificence centered on the start-finish line. It has nine tiers or viewing levels and reaches a height of 153 feet, equal to a 13-story building. The flagpole on top extends to 199 feet. The glass panels facing the main straightaway were built in England.
Housed in the new Panasonic Pagoda are state-of-the-art facilities for race control, safety, timing and scoring and radio broadcast booths. Behind the new Panasonic Pagoda tower is the Pagoda Plaza area, a focal point for spectators who wish to take a break from viewing the on-track action.
The Panasonic Pagoda Plaza is fully landscaped with grass and a brick walkway shaped like the oval. A 36-inch strip of bricks runs from the track’s start/finish line, underneath the Panasonic Pagoda tower and into the middle of the plaza. Large video screens show on-track action and messages. The area is an ideal location for spectators and families to relax.
The Yard of Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is some of the most hallowed ground in worldwide motorsports. In a span of 63 days in fall 1909, 3.2 million paving bricks, each weighing 9.5 pounds, were laid on top of the original surface of crushed rock and tar to upgrade the Speedway.
Asphalt gradually was added to various section of the brick surface, with patches added to rougher sections of the turns in 1936 and all turns being completely paved with asphalt in 1937. In 1938, the entire track was paved with asphalt except for the middle portion of the front straightaway.
In October 1961, the remaining bricks on the front straightaway were covered with asphalt. A 36-inch strip of the original bricks was kept intact at the start/finish line, where it remains today as the fabled Yard of Bricks.
The Kissing of the Bricks - The tradition of "kissing the bricks" was started by NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett. After his Brickyard 400 victory in 1996, Jarrett and crew chief Todd Parrott decided to walk out to the start-finish line, kneel and kiss the Yard of Bricks to pay tribute to the fabled history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The team joined them for a group kiss on the bricks, and an Indianapolis tradition was born that Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 winners have followed since.