The Indianapolis 500: Making the Pilgrimage to the ‘Yard of Bricks’




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Boydell and Brewer


Book chapter

Peer reviewed



The first section of this chapter gives a brief historical overview of the Indy 500 and argues that ‘the most famous automobile race in the world’ dominates the IndyCar and United States racing mythology compared with the other meetings in the annual calendar. With the Le Mans 10 Hours and Monaco Grand Prix , it forms the classic trio of must-see races in world motorsport. This discussion is the longer portion of the two, not least because motor-racing is often overlooked in sports history more generally. What makes Indianapolis special to a race fan? In seeking to answer why a motor-racing fan from the British midlands wanted to visit the Indy 500, the second, shorter, section looks at my experience of the Indy day in 1996. Each element was independently organised, as there were no package holidays of this kind. Soon afterwards, the internet made the organisation of travel the matter of credit card ownership and a few clicks of a computer mouse, and lifestyle travel for all kinds of speciality interest has been a bene.ciary of that change. The discussion of pilgrimage literature in this section looks at some of the experience of attending the Indy, an integral part of which is going to the site.



Indianapolis 500, motor sport, kinetic ritual, Hoosier, racing


Williams, J. (2012) The Indianapolis 500: Making the Pilgrimage to the 'Yard of Bricks'. In: J. Hill, K. Moore and J. Wood (eds.) Sport, History and Heritage: An Investigation Into The Public Representation Of Sport, Boydell and Brewer, pp. 247-262


Research Institute