Today’s route took us from Auburn heading towards the MG fest in Louisville via Indianapolis the home of the self-proclaimed “Greatest race track in the World”. There may be a few other contenders who would put their hands up for that title but there’s no doubt it’s impressive in every way. The first 500 race on the 2.5 mile rectangular oval track was held on Memorial Day 1911 attended by 80,000 spectators and the winning driver averaged 120 km/h. Until 1935, the track was paved with bricks, hence the nickname “The Brickyard” but as speeds rose this surface became increasingly dangerous and there is now just a 1 yard section of the bricks remaining near the start/finish line to remind future generations of this piece of history. Until 1961 the race cars maintained a traditional front engine layout but in that year Jack Brabham created history by entering his rear engine car. He managed a 9th place finish and would have done even better except for a fuel consumption miscalculation requiring an extra pitstop but the die was cast. British driver Jim Clark driving a rear engine Lotus won easily in 1965 followed by Graham Hill in 1966. Today the quickest cars can lap at an average speed of 230 mph or 370 km/h so it must be just a very spectacular blur to the 350,000 spectators.
What was supposed to be a quiet uneventful drive turned out not so well for Simon driving Navy Car. A minor misunderstanding with another car as we were leaving the morning tea stop resulted in a scraped rear quarter panel – poor Simon was very disconsolate, his first ever accident and the first scrape for Navy Car apart from a dinged bumper over-rider caused when a van backed into us at a toll booth in Turkey. The blessing was that no-one was hurt and panels can be easily fixed.