In August of 1994, a racing tradition was born at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard became the first race besides Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (the Indy 500) to be held at the famous race track. Since then, the event has become NASCAR’s most-attended race, with more than 250,000 enthusiastic fans filling the stands each year. The original name of this mega-Indianapolis event, “The Brickyard 400,” referred to the original pavement of brick that still lies under the asphalt that coats the track today. With the securing of a sponsorship in 2005, the race officially became The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
|Video about the action packed finale from the 2007 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard in Indianapolis, Indiana|
In 1993, when NASCAR president Bill France Jr. and Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George joined forces to announce the birth of the Allstate 400, race fans the world over reacted with dismay. The NASCAR Brickyard 400 was to be a stock car race, held on the same track that Indy 500 drivers took to every year. Fans of both Indy Car and NASCAR had serious doubts about meshing the two worlds, worrying that the significance of the 500 would be lost and NASCAR fans would lose interest. It quickly became apparent, though, that the new race would bring only good to the racing community. The Brickyard 400 exploded into what is now just as legendary an event as the 500, and they manage to share the same famed track in harmony. The expansion of the action at the track immediately benefited Indianapolis business and Indianapolis tourism as well; several downtown hotels saw huge increases in business. The four-star Canterbury Hotel continues to be booked to capacity for race weekend months in advance of both races, as does the newer, and perhaps even more impressive, Conrad Hotel.
The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard debuted to the same flurry of excitement and celebration as the Indy 500. Florence Henderson kicked off the event by singing “America the Beautiful” and Jim Nabors, a staple of the Indy 500, sang the national anthem. Military planes flew overhead as balloons were released into the air, and fans settled in for the inaugural running of a race that would later become one of the most famous sporting events in the world and an Indianapolis attraction to rival the Indianapoils 500 Mile Race.
NASCAR fans, while taking their sport of choice very seriously, are also perhaps even more enthusiastic than Indy Car spectators about their partying. Tailgating is one of the highlights of the Allstate 400 every year, and with each race the track continues to see bigger crowds of fans of all ages kicking back with beer, mini-grills, and yard games. Even portable shelters are pulled out the week before the race, with spectators setting up camp and tying their temporary homes right up to their vehicles. The hot, sunny weather in Indianapolis in July allows fans to rise before dawn and continue their partying late into the evening.
When the day of the race arrives, the tents are put away and the still lively fans flood the gates at the Speedway. The race itself has generated plenty of excitement and built up its own rich traditions over the years, as well as making several already famous NASCAR drivers legendary. Jeff Gordon, one of the biggest names in racing, made an even bigger name for himself by winning the Allstate 400 an unprecedented four times. And Dale Jarrett was hot on his heels with his own three wins. In addition to being an excellent driver, Jarrett and his crew will always be remembered for originating one of the Brickyard’s most cherished traditions. In 1966, Jarrett had just officially won his first Allstate 400, and after his ceremonial ride around the track, his crew chief Todd Parrott pulled him aside. Without revealing his plans to Jarrett, Parrott rounded up the whole crew and approached Victory Line. Surprising his team and the audience, he dropped to the ground and kissed the bricks lining Victory Lane. He was immediately followed by an enthusiastic Jarrett and the rest of the team, beginning a tradition much like the famed bottle of milk that the Indy 500 winner chugs to celebrate his victory. As soon as the winner of the Allstate 400 presses his lips to the bricks, fans know the celebration has begun!
Bridge at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Stair bridge at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Pit Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Tunnel to the Infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Brickyard Crossing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway