I never imagined getting to ride in an Indy car, and I certainly never imagined racing through busy city roads inside one.
But there I was, speeding through the streets of Indianapolis in the rear seat of an old Indy 500 race car that had been converted into a legal street automobile!
I also got to take part in the “Kiss the Bricks Tour” at the Indianapolis 500 speedway. You know how the winners of the race always celebrate by kissing the bricks at the finish line? Tourists can do that too!
Read on to learn about kissing the bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, and how you can ride an old Indy car around the streets of the city legally!
Indy 500 Kiss the Bricks Tour
You can’t visit Indy without seeing the actual Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard 400 races.
Thanks to Visit Indy, I had an opportunity to participate in the Indy 500 Kiss the Bricks Tour, available to the public from March to early December. The tour takes visitors behind the scenes, allowing them to stand on the actual race track and at the victory podium.
While watching the Indy 500 on tv, you don’t realize just how massive the track is. There’s enough space on the grounds for an Indy Hall of Fame Museum, multiple parking lots and garages, two miles of grandstands and 250,000 seats, and even a full-size golf course! The first 4 holes are inside the raceway, while the other 14 are just outside the track.
Here’s the view from the starting line. Imagine how it would feel to be here with the stands packed on race day!
The track used to be made of bricks. But over the years it was gradually replaced by asphalt, except for a three-foot-wide row of bricks at the starting and finishing line.
Traditionally, the race winner gets out and kisses the bricks. Anyone on the Grounds or Kiss the Bricks Tour will want to take advantage of the opportunity to plant their lips on this treasured piece of dirty ground.
Still visible on the race track when I visited were the donuts made by Ryan Newman when he won the Brickyard 400 earlier that year.
Interestingly, the tradition of kissing the bricks only started in 1996 when Dale Jarrett and his Brickyard 400 team did it in celebration. Since then, other winners followed suit. Kissing the Bricks is one of the coolest things to do in the state of Indiana!
As of this writing, the Kiss the Bricks Tour costs $22 per adult and includes a lap around the racetrack and a chance to smooch those legendary bricks.
Street-Legal Indy Car Rides
At Dallara IndyCar Factory, visitors can see how Indy cars are made. For an additional fee, there’s an option to add a Street Legal adventure inside one of these sweet rides.
Surprisingly few accommodations are needed to make an Indy car work as a regular street vehicle. The main changes are adding turn signals and brake lights and expanding the seating area to fit two people. Once the car gets its license plate, it’s good to go.
The ride was short but enjoyable. It was surreal being so low to the ground and riding past businesses, pedestrians, and the actual Motor Speedway in an Indy car. We might have reached speeds of around 70 mph. But of course that’s just a hypothetical number, since we would never exceed the speed limit.
Here’s a small portion of the street-legal Indy car ride through the streets of Indianapolis from my perspective. It’s pretty shaky because, well, you try keeping a camera steady under those circumstances!
Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway Museum and Hall of Fame
Also on the Indy grounds is the Indianapolis 500 Hall of Fame Museum, which includes more about the history of auto racing than you’d ever need to know.
The best part of the museum is the collection of winning vehicles from past Indy 500 races. There’s 100 years of history in this next photo – check out the actual winning vehicles from the 1911 and 2011 events. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.
If you want to experience the full history of this legendary Indianapolis 500 race, stop by the Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. Currently, the museum is open everyday from 10-4 during the winter and from 9-6 spring through fall.
What you’ll find here are artifacts from a century of auto racing, including many of the actual cars that won the Indy 500. It’s fascinating to see how the design of the cars has changed over the years.
These are the winning cars from 1911 and 2011. Try to guess which is which!
Below is the winning car from 1912. Interesting story on this one: Joe Dawson drove this 4-cylinder car and only took over the lead with 2 laps remaining, when the leader’s vehicle broke down.
There’s plenty more to see, so it’s worth stopping by even if you’re not a huge racing fan.
While you’re visiting the city, remember to see the Cultural Bike Trail, watch elephant painting at the Indianapolis Zoo, and get your fix of artwork at 100 Acres Park and the Alexander Hotel. Or find more cool activities in nearby Hamilton County.
Would you go for a ride in an Indy car or take part in the kiss the bricks tour?