The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is an automotive museum on the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana, United States, which houses the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame. It is intrinsically linked to the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400, but it also includes exhibits reflecting other forms of motorsports, passenger cars, and general automotive history. In 2006, it celebrated its 50th anniversary. The museum foundation possesses several former Indianapolis 500-winning cars, and they are regularly rotated onto the display floor exhibits.
The museum is independently owned and operated by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation, Inc., a registered 501(c)(3) organization. The museum dates back to 1956, and moved to the current building in 1976. It is located in the infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway race course, and is open year-round.
The first museum at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was completed April 7, 1956 It was located on the southwest corner of the property, outside turn one of the famous oval, at the corner of 16th Street and Georgetown Road. Its exhibits included Ray Harroun's 1911 Indy 500 winning car, and a handful of other vehicles. Karl Kizer became the first curator. When it opened, it only had six cars. Within a number of years, dozens of collector cars were being donated and acquired. It did not take long for management to realize that the building was of insufficient size. According to Speedway publicist Al Bloemker, by 1961, the museum was seeing an average of 5,000 visitors per week (not including month of May crowds).
In 1975, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway broke ground on a new 96,000-square-foot (8,900 m2) museum and administration building, located in the infield of the track. The two-story white building was made of Wyoming quartz, and along with the museum, housed office space, the ticket office, a gift shop, and photography department. It officially opened to the public on April 5, 1976, coinciding with the year-long United States Bicentennial celebration. It officially operated under the name Hall of Fame Museum, but was known colloquially as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. The original museum building outside turn one was kept intact, and converted into additional office space.
In the summer of 1993, the original museum building outside of turn one was demolished. In its place a multimillion-dollar administration building was erected. The administrative and ticket offices were moved out of the infield museum building, and relocated to the new admin office. This freed up floor space in the museum for an expanded gift shop and other exhibits.
In 1993, the museum parking lot hosted the first "Indy 500 Expo" during race festivities, an outdoor interactive spectator exhibit. In 1995, it was expanded and renamed "Indy 500 FanFest". It was discontinued after 1997, but in recent years, smaller displays sponsored by Chevrolet have featured former pace cars and other exhibits.
In 2016, a revitalization and modernization project began, to expand the museum floor and add interactive displays. In addition, in April 2016, the facility was officially renamed the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
The museum rotates a display of over 75 cars at any given time. Due to considerable space restraints, only a small portion of the total collection can be displayed. Many cars are stored in the invitation-only basement, or at separate off-site facilities. Some of the cars in storage, however, are not restored to display condition. Frequently, cars are sent on loan for display at other museums, historical car shows, parades, and other activities.
The collection includes over thirty Indianapolis 500 winning cars, various other Indy cars, and several racing cars from other disciplines. Other items on display include trophies, plaques, racing paraphernalia such as helmets, gloves, and driver's suits. A collection of models, photographs, toys, and paintings are also for view. One display exhibits a timeline of scoring devices.
In some years, a special exhibit takes over much or all of the museum floor, commemorating a special event or milestone. Such exhibits are typically on display for an extended period, encompassing the entire month of May, and sometimes throughout the summer.
Due to the size of the collection, and space constraints on the display floor, a large portion of the collection is stored in the basement. Some cars are rotated into display, while others remain downstairs permanently, out of view from the public. The basement at the museum is strictly off-limits to the public, and admittance is by invitation only. The contents of the basement collection has become a source of folklore and mystique, as only a chosen few have been allowed to enter, and photography is not allowed.
In 2016, the museum display floor was expanded by 6,000 square feet after office space was relocated to another building. The new North Wing is used to display additional cars, and offers a view of a portion of the IMS road course.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame, formerly known as the Auto Racing Hall of Fame, dates back to 1952. It was established and supported by the AAA and Ford Foundation. It was originally the brainchild of Tony Hulman who had expressed interest in starting a racing hall of fame shortly after he purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1946. As of 2017, there have been 153 inductees enshrined into the hall.
The AAA dropped out of racing entirely in 1955. After being established for only three years, and after only a handful of historical, "veterans committee" inductees, the hall of fame went dormant. A year later, the first Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum opened its doors. In 1961, Hulman acquired and revived the hall of fame, and incorporated it into the Speedway's museum organization.
Candidates can be nominated after at least twenty years from the first date of active participation in professional-level auto racing. A short list of nominees from before 1970, and nominees after 1970 are placed on the ballot. Inductees must receive 75 percent of the votes of a roughly 150-member panel of racing officials, living hall of fame members, and selected media representatives. Participation and accomplishments in the Indianapolis 500 are heavily weighed, but are not the lone factors in consideration. Since 2018, the scope has included participants of other events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, namely the Brickyard 400 and U.S. Grand Prix. Voting is held annually in the early spring. Beginning in 2017, the announcement of the inductees is made on Founders Day (March 20), the date in which the track was incorporated in 1909. The new members are formally inducted about a week before the race during a special ceremony. There is no set number of inductees for each year, and the number varies annually.
Inductees that are deceased are sometimes assigned Speedway historian Donald Davidson to accept the award in their memory. In 2004, former car owner Roger Penske accepted the award on behalf of Emerson Fittipaldi, who could not make the trip from Brazil. The current inductees are summarized below.
A replica of Mario Andretti's Brawner Hawk, the 1969 Indy 500 winner
Johnny Rutherford's 1980 pole and race-winning Chaparral 2K
1979 Le Mans winning Porsche 935
Terrazzo floor logo
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